#### Discover more from Mathworlds

### đ ď¸ Correction

I posted a graph of Desmos usage in this newsletter that was incorrect. It expressedÂ **curriculum usage**Â as a fraction ofÂ **lessons run**Â divided byÂ **total possible lessons that could have been run**, and itâs come to my attention that my calculation ofÂ **total possible lessons**Â was too large by an amount Iâm still sorting out. Please accept my apology for a careless error with numbers and graphs.

At this time last year, teachers were making plans for a *full year* of remote teaching rather than a *single emergency quarter*. Now, those same teachers are making plans for how theyâll teach in the wake of that year of remote teaching.Â

All kinds of debris bob around in that wake right now, all of it complicating the work of teaching. Students may have experienced the death of family or friends. They may have experienced health crises of their own. They may have experienced poverty in a new or deeper way.Â

Every teacher I talk to is very stressed about that debris from their year of remote teaching. They are particularly stressed about âlearning loss,â something which they are frequently told (by people who I observe are often not classroom teachers) does not exist.

In one sense, the critics of âlearning lossâ are correct here. Learning is the sort of thing that can become inert and not easily used, but we can take deliberate measures to reconstitute that learning later. So âlearning lossâ isnât a particularly accurate description of cognition. Neither does the term do justice to all the learning students *gained* while at home.

But my opinion is that those critics are working much harder to decry the term âlearning lossâ than they are working to name and address a real phenomenon that teachers *do *have every reason to worry about.

Students did lose *something* last year. We can argue over the value of that thing and its value relative to other things they gained. But every anecdotal source I have tells me that teachers were able to teach many fewer lessons this year than last year.

Yet many school districts are still asking teachers to teach next year as though the students theyâre receiving had the same opportunity to learn as they would have in years that werenât consumed by a world-historic pandemic.

Even if âlearning lossâ is a misnomer, teachers have every reason to be anxious about that âopportunity loss.â Students lost a lot of opportunities to learn math this last year and teachers would likely benefit from some concrete, specific, actionable suggestions for their preparation.

So letâs offer and trade some ideas together.

**How should teachers teach ideas this year knowing that many of their students will not have experienced related ideas from the previous year?**

Smash the reply button or leave a comment. In a future email, Iâll share some of your answers, some answers from my colleagues at Desmos, and some of my own.

### đ What Else

I am obsessed with the question

**Jenna Laib**asked in a recent post, âDo students need to finish every problem?â One key to teaching with problems is knowing when the class has had sufficient experience with the problem to benefit from a conversation about it, which is generally earlier than when the entire class has*finished*the problem.If youâre a parent of small kids, check out this thread of childrenâs math books. I impulse bought a bunch on Amazon and my kids are loving Baby Goes to Market and Countablock, in particular.

Whatâs your favorite line from Math Person? High schooler

**Julia Schanenâs**ode to mathematics is by turns heartbreaking and actual-lol-level funny. Personally, âgnawing on a boneâ put me on the floor.âTwo lines are 2 apart.â Love an interesting tweet-sized problem.

Press the âAnonymizeâ button in Desmos and your studentsâ names will change to names of mathematicians. A small team at Desmos recently made large changes to the names of mathematicians that appear. Check out the what and the why.

## Learning Loss vs. Opportunity Loss

I still believe that our math curriculums (as well as other subject curriculums) need an enema. Math should not be restricted to books, standards, fancy online works, or equations to be solved that are meaningless. I feel "learning loss" or "opportunity loss" goes deeper than the pandemic ever caused. In my dream world, math would be discovered and formulas used to solve those discoveries and meaningful opportunities will be presented to the learning then there would no losses.

I will continue what I have done in the past: use my district priority standards, meet my students where they are, and do my best to give them rich learning experiences to get them to meet priority standards we have set. In addition, the vertical planning we do at my building allows us to share how deep we taught in the course and which standards and units may need more remediation. Maybe it is because I have always taught in at risk classrooms, but the challenge of getting kids "math holes" doesn't scare me. What helps my students "catch up" or "fill in gaps" is not so much about the math but my commitment to establish raport between the students and me and create a safe learning space where kids can talk math, learn from each other, and use mistakes as learning opportunities. It would be so much easier to just teach algorithms, especially when the kids beg for an "easy" day. But life isn't easy, and my kids know this. And while they whine, complain, and roll their eyes and sigh, at the end of the year, they come to appreciate my approach and thank me.

Of course, I am privileged to have teachers to collaborate with and a district that has designated priority standards and allows me to teach how I see fit. I am a high school math teacher, 30 years experience, and my current school is at 65% free/reduced lunch. We can do this!