Must Do May Do

As I’ve been working towards personalized learning in my classroom, Math is the area where I’m struggling the most to ensure that I’m reaching each student at the place where they are as individual learners. While doing some research, I found Jennifer Gonzalez, from The Cult of Pedagogy, who suggested playlists, and All About 3rd Grade Blog, who suggested a Must Do May Do list. I took this idea first, and gave each student a personalized calendar with the tasks they “Must Do” on a particular day, after which they can choose the May Do task of their choice. As they LOVE Prodigy Game, they often choose to do that, and I feel like I’ve won the teacher lottery with that one!

While the students work on their Must Do May Do, I am able to conference with individual or small groups of students on more targeted skills and teaching. In the first few classes, these one on one sessions were often interrupted by other students who needed help with their task. A few things occurred to me; 1) the tasks are not level appropriate for that student; 2) the students aren’t comfortable problem solving on their own; 3) the students don’t realize that their peers can be helpful resources to them. No matterĀ  the reason, I was responsible for “fixing” the problem. As a class, we came up with solutions for times when they don’t know what to do on their Must Dos.

  • Read the instructions/problem/question again. Maybe it will become clearer
  • Ask someone else in the class if they can help you (good ol’ Ask Three Before Me)
  • Make a note for yourself that this is something you may need clarification on when it comes time for your one on one time with the teacher
  • Look it up online and see if there’s a video, or something else you can use to help you understand

These are all the real life, true skills they’ll need later in life. Giving up on the first go won’t get anyone very far.

After speaking with Silvia today, she brought up the point that personalized learning isn’t about the teacher creating 15 different lessons for each of my 15 students. The goal is to have students who are self-directed and self-motivated, who are able look at what they need to learn, decide on the tools they’ll need in order to learn it, and go for it! This is the route I’m exploring to discover! My students really enjoy the Must Do May Do list. So as not to throw the baby out with the bath water, I’m thinking it will be worthwhile to involve the students more in the making of the Must Do May Do list. I attempted to have choice in the lesson during the May Do portion, but that’s not where the magic happens. Students need to be the ones to choose the Must Dos – the lessons that are going to help them learn what they need to learn. With this new realization, I’m excited to see how this will evolve!

3 Comments on Must Do May Do

  1. Jon Mitzmacher
    22nd October 2018 at 2:03 pm (5 years ago)

    So what would a “Daily 5” approach to Math look like? If Molly is doing math at a “6.1” level, what her “just-right” math assignment look like? How could she take ownership?

    • melissat
      24th October 2018 at 12:12 am (5 years ago)

      I think my approach now definitely has elements of Daily 5. It’s that ownership piece that I’m still working on. I also need to clarify my thinking around what enrichment tasks really are. If Molly is in grade 5 and doing math at 6.1, does that necessarily mean she does grade 6.1 math or are there ways to enrich grade 5 math so it is challenging and engaging?


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  1. […] was about creating opportunities in my classroom where students had more voice. I attempted to make Must Do, May Do lists in my math class, but after listening to these videos from Learning PersonalizedĀ (this site has […]

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