Today, we wrap up the five-week #SOCSDSpotlight campaign featuring our K-12 math program with a culminating overview by Instructional Math Coaches Shannon Bogart (K-5) and Marisa Premus (6-12)! The coaches took a quick break from the district-wide Math Leadership Team meeting yesterday to talk.
“At the elementary grades, we focus on conceptual understanding as well as have a strong grasp on our base ten system. Students learn how the ones grow into the tens place, the tens place grows into the hundreds place, et cetera. They eventually apply these ideas and patterns to working with decimals and fractions in fourth and fifth grade, and beyond,” Bogart explained. “When exploring the four operations–addition, subtraction, multiplication and division–we apply what we know about the place value system as ways to solve these problems. Applying what they know builds understanding of what is actually happening to the numbers and why, aids them in evaluating whether or not their solution is reasonable and how a mathematical procedure works. This understanding helps them remember the process and the procedure they are taught once they reach secondary-level math. We are constantly thinking about the questions we can ask to help our students become deeper mathematical thinkers. Above all, we try to instill in the students two things: a love for math by having fun with learning the subject; and, confidence in themselves as mathematicians. Both will prepare them for all the great math work that is done in the secondary grades.”
Premus continued, “Moving onto the secondary level, students are presented with challenging, problem-solving opportunities where they learn how to explore, discuss and explain their thinking using multiple approaches. Middle school math continues to develop the conceptual understanding and procedural fluency that begins in the elementary years. Over the course of three years, students transition from basic arithmetic computations and concepts to algebra. Students begin their program with a focus on ratios and proportions, multiplication and division with fractions and decimals, and finish middle school with an introduction to the algebra concepts of linear expressions and equations.
“Once in high school, students encounter different courses, each with the underlying study of functions. Algebra 1 students learn about linear, quadratic and exponential functions, are introduced to function notation, and learn the procedure of solving equations in addition to learning how these functions appear in real-world context. Geometry expands on our students’ middle school experience. Students explore more complex geometric problems which deepen their understanding of spatial relationships, including how to make geometric arguments through the use of formal proofs. Algebra 2 students deepen their conceptual understanding of quadratic and exponential functions with the introduction of inverse functions–the logarithmic function, in particular. Students also continue to apply the importance of zeros of a function in the context of higher degree polynomial functions. Pre-Calculus broadens the real number system, exposing students to the complex number system as well as polar and vector functions. This course will prepare students who plan on taking Calculus their senior year or as a first-year college student. AP Calculus introduces students to the concept of rates of change and applying its uses in physics and economics. In addition to this elective course, students may also enroll in AP Statistics, which focuses on the tools for collecting and analyzing data and how to draw conclusions on the data. (An additional math elective–Data Science–will be offered next year.) Overall, our high school curriculum provides our students the opportunity to hone their problem-solving skills that they need to be successful in college and beyond.”
Instructional coaches co-lead the district-wide Math Leadership Team meetings, which provide K-12 math teachers with the opportunity to collaborate, exchange best practices and “crosswalk” curriculum to ensure continuity from grade to grade. In addition, they support teachers by researching and providing instructional resources and tools, such as teaching slides, choice/challenge activities, problem-based learning projects and Dreambox; aligning common assessments and using data to create goals for targeted, small group instruction; delivering ongoing, on-site professional development through push-in lesson modeling and specialty lessons, lesson planning support and onboarding of new math teachers. Bogart also plans and runs the annual K-5 Family Math Night which promotes awareness of the math curriculum and fun ways for families to support young mathematicians at home.
Thank you to our instructional coaches and the 28 amazing teachers who welcomed our community into their classrooms over the past two months to share their work!