Symphony Math uses a dynamic branching engine that allows students to learn at their own levels. As students work in the program, they complete tasks that are judged as a 'best fit' for their ability. In this way, the program is constantly adjusting to the needs of each learner, and ensures that students work on material until they achieve full mastery.
Symphony Math is organized into groups of 8 tasks, called Task Groups. Each task in Symphony Math involves the completion of a mathematics task using models, symbols, or a combination of both. Task Groups attempt to give students the best possible tasks for each student. Each time a student completes a Task Group, the Symphony Math branching engine re-evaluates the student and provides a better match for their needs.
The three main types of Task Groups are:
|Placement||A group of 8 challenging tasks that assess student mastery of all concepts within a Stage. Placement tasks appear for all Stages below the student's grade level, and students who score better than 90% on these tasks move directly to the next Stage.|
|Skill||A group of 8 tasks that focus on one skill within a Stage. Students who score better than 85% move directly to the next Skill group.|
|Focus||A group of 8 tasks that provide extended practice within a skill. Focus Groups gradually increase in difficulty, moving from models-only (concrete) to numbers-only (abstract) to application (auditory recall and word problems).|
The demonstration mode of Symphony Math shows a nice visualization of the task group types:
As students work in Symphony Math, they move in and out of the above Task Group types. When they struggle, they move horizontally or stay in the same tasks groups shown above. Remember that each blue area above represents 8 tasks at a particular level of difficulty. When they show mastery, they move down or to a more difficult task group.
Let's look at some examples of branching in action.
The report shown above shows a Student Daily Progress report for a student's session of use. The icons on the right side show student performance in each Task Group, with the most recent progress on top of the screen. The Green icons are tasks solved correctly the first time. In the session shown above, the student completes Stage 6, and also shows mastery in Stage 7. The branching engine determines the student should move directly to the next Stage (8), which the student begins.
Also note that the student doesn't complete their work in Stage 8. This is okay - the program will pick up where they left off at the beginning of the next session.
In just 13 minutes, the student completes a large portion of the grade 1 curriculum. While this is atypical, Symphony Math works to find the challenge level for every student, and, especially in the early weeks of use, some students will move through Stages very quickly.
This report shows a much more typical example of student progress. In this Stage, the student moves through the skills of Place Value Addition (Missing Result and Change) and Subtraction: Missing Result very quickly. However, they encounter Struggle when they reach the skill Place Value Subtraction: Missing Change. The branching engine moves into Focus task blocks, where the student will remain until they demonstrate mastery.
Notice how each task block at the end of the student's session (top) ends after only a few tasks. When a student struggles, we don't need to give them all 8 tasks in a group to know that they can't move forward. Instead, the student sees a message in the Symphony Math program that lets them know they need to show more mastery before they can move forward:
The dynamic branching of Symphony Math® allows students to learn at their own levels. As the program illuminates an area of need, progress slows until the student achieves the necessary understanding. Students will move in and out of different branching modes as they work through the program. If they are challenged, and remain in a Focus Group for multiple attempts, they will be flagged in the 'HELP' data view on your Symphony Dashboard. In the second example above, the teacher would see the student's need in their HELP data view. The data view shows that Sara Torres has tried the task group 8.4.1 four times ("Tries") without achieving a passing score (85% or better).
When a student needs help, a specific set of Guided Practice worksheets will be recommended. The Symphony Dashboard presents a direct link to this resource, and also provides other resources that can help you intervene and help this student. Have a conversation with students about the material in the Guided Practice sheets, or have them work with other students who may also be struggling with the same skill. Small group or 1:1 instruction can help illuminate misconceptions and lead to greater understanding.
Students take different paths to achievement. Student 2 may need much more time in Symphony Math in order to complete the curriculum. This is appropriate for the student’s ability, and they should be encouraged to use Symphony Math more often, and rewarded when they master Stages in which they struggle.