Homewood District 153 is changing its math curriculum to give young students a better understanding of math concepts and ease older students into word and multi-step problems.
Kathy Schaeflein, director of curriculum, said the district moved forward with the $149,600 purchase and teacher training package after the Illinois legislature approved a temporary budget providing state support for schools. The curriculum will be in place in fall 2016.
The new books, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, will serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
At Willow School, kindergarteners will use the Math in Focus series that is based on Singapore Math, a three-step system that uses concrete, pictorial and abstract techniques.
Willow School teachers will get a tub of blocks, bar models and other hands-on pieces that will help students better understand the concepts. Teachers will also use pictorial representations and students will begin to solve math problems using numbers and symbols.
Schaeflein said “that is going to be really good for the early kids. It’s really learning the understanding of what’s behind the mathematics and the numbers” such as amount and quantity, before they move into the techniques of computation.
At Churchill School, the Go Math curriculum will introduce students how to work with “real-world problem solving. It’s more word problems, so that’s more appropriate for third through fifth graders who are readers,” she noted.
Students in fifth and sixth grades at Millennium School transitioned to Go Math three years ago. With Millennium closed and fifth graders moving to Churchill School, all upper grades will now use Go Math.
“Our fifth grade teachers have been using Go Math and they’re going to be the leaders at Churchill. They’re the in-house experts. I think the transition is going to be really smooth,” she added.
The new curriculum addresses the multi-step problems and word problems raised in the math portion of Illinois’ PARCC assessment testing. Schaeflein said the school consolidation program will work to students’ advantage because the state PARCC exam has a natural break between fifth and sixth grades.
The curriculum also includes an online function for home learning for students, and online information teachers can include for parents.