Birmingham adopting new teaching curriculum – Oakland Press

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For today’s students coming up with the right answer includes showing your work to get that answer. That is the focus of modern math classes.
Birmingham schools have started two pilot programs to make the modern math standard the new normal.
A curriculum design team of more than 40 Birmingham educators evaluated instructional materials for grades K-8 mathematics, before choosing two resources to try for this school year.
Illustrative Mathematics is a problem-based core curriculum designed to address content and practice standards to help students  solve problems, reason, communicate, and think critically inside and outside the classroom.
The iReady Classroom Mathematics program shows students how to solve problems using a variety of strategies to follow  the most efficient path to produce solutions.
“These two programs are the most highly rated for standards alignment,” said April Imperio, assistant superintendent for student learning and inclusion. “These programs offer an excellent bridge between our middle school and high school math curriculums.”
“Neither program is really about the traditional ‘sit and take notes’ math class that we might remember in middle school,” said Imperio. “Both of these programs focus on students coming up with an answer and they have to describe why their answer worked and which method they used.”
Imperio said today’s testing standards call for a new way of teaching children to be successful on those tests.
“Where we just had to solve problems on our state math tests, students now have to tell which method they choose or why they choose that method,” she said. “So they don’t just have to solve it, they have to justify it.”
Imperio said the early results have been positive.
“There is always a little bit of a reaction to a different way of doing mathematics, but the reaction so far is that both the teachers and students are very excited,” she said.
Sara Cibor, district curriculum coordinator for elementary math and science, said she has seen positive results through the first three months.
“I have been in the classrooms and I am seeing kids are engaging in dialogue with each other and they want to share their thinking and their ideas,” said Cibor. “They are authentically discussing math in a whole new way.”
Imperio said that parents have been receptive to the new methods, but still question why old techniques cannot be used.
“Our standards are different than when we grew up and are more rigorous, so it takes a different kind of approach to instill new methods of problem solving for today’s students,” Imperio said. “These programs teach the ‘why’ behind mathematics and that is now a requirement for today’s standards. It is not about memorizing formulas anymore; students need to justify their reasoning in solving problems.”
Tammy Brown, fifth grade accelerated math teacher at Birmingham Covington, is working with the Illustrative program.
“It is the same math, it just shows why we do what we do to come up with a solution,” she said. “It can also be done by students at every level and they all can start at the same baseline and progress together.”
Both programs meet state standards. District officials will assess which program is more efficient and the best fit for students and staff. The best of the two will become a permanent part of the curriculum starting the fall of 2023.
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