Pick the Right Self-Paced Math Curriculum for Your Class

Students enter your classroom every day with different levels of experience and retention. Often, their unique needs are at opposite ends of the spectrum: one student needs you to walk them through 10 examples while another catches on after the first two examples and is ready to run ahead. If you've considered having a few students self pace within your math class we're going to share some tips (and things to avoid) as you choose your self-paced curriculum so it can work successfully for you.

Choose the Right Curriculum:

The importance of this step cannot be overstated. Your ability to manage a student working on his or her own is contingent on how well built-out your math curriculum is. 

Look For:

  • Videos for every lesson that include both notes and examples. Check how easy the videos are to access, navigate, and reference between you and the student. Watch a video or two to ensure the speaker is easy to follow and understand. Even better if there are scaffolded notes that mirror the content in the lessons. That way you can make sure the student watched the video just by seeing the completed note sheet!
  • Multiple practice set options. Self-paced students need multiple options for practice and review. Sometimes they will get it on the first try, and other times not. Look for an assortment of practice problems at varying depths of knowledge to accompany each lesson so you can use your time most effectively. 
  • Answer keys with worked-out solutions. Your self-paced math students will be checking their work as they complete practice problems. You'll save hours of time- and deepen their learning- if they can figure out on their own "why" their solution was incorrect.
  • A pacing guide that is realistic. Look at the pacing guide that comes with your curriculum. Ask yourself if the pace seems reasonable, and if it is easy to follow. Remember, a middle or high school student will be using it.


  • A curriculum that requires you to record videos. Be realistic about the time you can invest. Recording a few videos according to departmental procedures is one thing, but recording all the videos ahead of time will eat up hours of time you don't have.
  • Anything that requires a lot of discussion and inquiry. Investigation is one amazing way to help students own learning, but these activities require a lot of follow-up dialogue that is not always available for a self-paced learner. A few great options instead are to utilize a program with all the positive we listed above and supplement with resources such as Desmos or Illustrative Math activities. Again, we're not discouraging you from discovery learning. Instead, we're trying to help you manage your finite time in contact with students. Thus, we recommend making sure there is an achievable balance between investigation and direct instruction instead of going full tilt one way or the other.

Self-pacing students IS POSSIBLE with MathLight

Does this feel overwhelming? Yes, it's a lot to decide at the outset but... deep breath... you don't have to create everything from scratch and you don't have to reinvent the wheel. 

Find everything you need to succeed at self-pacing students with MathLight.

MathLight units meet all the content needs above! Plus, our founders use their decades of experience to create content that is easy to  implement in your classroom. See all that is packed into our units (lesson videos, notes pages, differentiated practice sets) by clicking here.

Ready to give MathLight a try? Self-pacing your students is possible with MathLight and you'll be convinced when you try out our Free Curriculum Bundle. Choose your bundle here! Then, when you're ready to commit to more find what you need in our find what you need to make self-pacing work for the long haul in our MathLight Store! 

    Jen Frey

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