Self-Paced Instruction, Task-Based Learning, and Other 1:1 Uses in the Mathematics Classroom

I am also willing to give you feedback on your 1:1 class or even come to your classroom for an observation.

Dr. Clayton M. Edwards

Awarded Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation at the University of Northern Iowa 2014

Presentation Experiences
  • International 1:1 Computing Conference ~ Atlanta, GA (2013)
  • University of Northern Iowa Annual Graduate Faculty Meeting ~ Cedar Falls, IA (2014)
  • ITEC ~ Des Moines, IA (2014)
  • Iowa 1:1 Institute ~ Des Moines, IA (2012 and 2014)
  • AEA 267 1:1 Annual Regional Conference ~ Cedar Falls, IA (2011-2013)
  • Green Hills AEA's 21st Century Learners' Conference ~ Underwood and Creston, IA (2014)
  • ICTM Pre-session ~ Ames, IA (2014)

Significant Findings From Doctoral Study

*Online environments can be equal to face-to-face instruction from a learning standpoint

*Students number one like/benefit from the online environment was self-pacing

What is a Self-Paced Classroom...Keys to a Successful Self-Paced Experience
  • The emphasis is on the INDIVIDUAL...not the masses. Something successful for one student may not be successful for another

  • Use a variety of resources. You have the freedom as a teacher to mold the experience for each student 

  • Students of all ability levels improve in a self-paced environment
    • Students who already have mastered a concept are not held back 
    • Students who work at a faster rate are not stuck waiting for others
    • Struggling students can work at a pace suitable to their learning

  • The communication between peers, as well as teacher to student, is one of the expected learning avenues of a self-paced classroom

  • While student centered, the teacher is HEAVILY involved by helping individual students during class, questioning students to promote further thinking, and forging quality and trusting relationships with students

  • Immediate and detailed feedback are essential to a smooth operating self-paced classroom

  • Additional time is needed to meet with students outside of normal class hours, give detailed feedback on student assignments or projects, and plan for days or months down the road

  • Grades are flexible...more of a standards-based approach

  • Constant communication with parents is needed through mass emails or directly to individuals. For mass emails, I use the messenger through Infinite Campus (our grading system)


Is My Classroom Always Self-Paced?

  • No it is study has shown that extensive use of self-paced instruction can lead to a deterioration of student enjoyment

  • Classroom Percentages
    • 60% Self-Paced instruction
    • 20% Large Scale Task
    • 10% Daily Question with Discussion
    • 5% Distributive Practice
    • 5% Computation


*I set a timer for ten minutes, and students work on one problem. They are free to work with anyone in the room. Students spend time coming up with an explanation, as well as finding other students to discuss the their explanation with. After the ten minutes has expired, I draw a name at random to explain the answer. I allow other students to show their alternate explanations once the first student has finished.

(Taken from a Smarter Balance practice test)

Daily Question Example

*After our daily question and discussion, the students have a few distributive practice items to answer, share with a partner, and save for end of class discussion. Students then move to their current self-paced unit.

*For the last five to seven minutes of class, we typically end with an estimation question found from Estimation 180 in which students have time to come up with a solution supported by an explanation, followed by a discussion.

(Credit to Estimation 180 and Andrew Stadel)

Task Tuesday

*Students are given a large scale task with the entire period to complete. Students may work alone or in groups of their choosing. Everyone is responsible for the solution, the process, and the understanding that goes with the task. Each student submits a lengthy write-up of everything it took to solve the problem.


*Student Work Examples for the Super Bear Task


More Tasks and Student Work on my Blog

Computation and Facts Thursday

*Students are asked to complete a set of 50 basic facts (regular for 6th grade and with negatives for 7th grade and 6th graders who have completed the integer operations unit. They record their score and time on a google spreadsheet so they can see how they have gotten better over time. After they finish, they work on a set of 10 computation problems showing work. I provide the answers behind the questions so they can check as they go. I have all of the answers and work on my iPad so I can assist if needed. Once finished, students can choose what they need to work on from our math homework list.


*Students are given the entire period to choose what they work on...could be our self-paced units, weekly tasks, or computation.

Large Scale Task Resources I Most Frequently Use

Other Thoughts
  • Improvement over Score

  • Classroom Discipline
  • Are you letting your students off the hook for learning?
    • Completion Points?
    • Moving on without mastery?
    • Giving an F and hoping students "figure it out"?
    • Not providing think time?
  • Where can I find more resources? 
    • Create a Twitter Account
    • Follow me (Dr. Edwards) @doctor_math (I post ready to use ideas and other info regularly)
Thank you for coming to my presentation. Feel free to contact me at or @doctor_math on Twitter with any questions or comments you may have.

Full Class Video (Friday Schedule)
Note: The lady at the table was observing to get her substitute license 
-Daily Question
-1 Distributive Practice Question
-Self-Pacing Work
-Going Over Distributive Practice Question

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Task Day Video (Tuesday)

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