Mathematics an emphasis in schools
Greetings from Carbon School District. This is the first of a series of columns about Carbon School District.
As an administrative team, we are always looking for ways to inform and communicate with you. As Superintendent, I hope that this series helps and is beneficial. I welcome your feedback and invite you to also visit our website, www.carbonschools.org.
Carbon School District has declared a "State of Math Urgency". Across the nation, student math scores reflect math understanding that is less than adequate. Carbon School District is experiencing similar challenges. A district teacher describes a gap that is developing as early as second grade: one student cannot skip count by 2's (2, 4, 6, 8), while another recognizes and talks about fractals! We see similar situations across all grade levels. A junior high teacher reports that a student, in solving for 10 - 6, started by regrouping the 1! We must have parent help and support to address this growing challenge.
"Just the facts, ma'am!"
What can parents do to help their children's math achievement? A disturbing number of students are woefully unprepared for higher math because they have not mastered automaticity in basic facts. Some students still count up or count down in solving basic skills problems. This actually is much harder to accomplish than simply memorizing facts. Parents can help significantly with nightly practice of these facts - for primary ages, 10 minutes of drill, for intermediate grades, 20 minutes of drill each night. Students must know basic addition facts by first/second grade and multiplication facts by third/fourth grade. Teachers are limited in the time that they can devote to these kinds of basic skills practice and having these in place with help from home, would be a tremendous help.
Number sense make mathematics fun!
What else can parents do? Math does not have to be a drudgery, or involve sitting down and doing extra math work or completing math books. Parents can encourage math number sense and interest by providing a math setting where discussions and conversations about math ideas are encouraged - by using objects such as colored beads, building blocks, interlocking cubes, nuts, bolts, washers, dice and asking them to order the objects or create patterns with the objects. Parents can help by playing math puzzles, such as jigsaw puzzles, tangrams, and games, including card games.
Talk the talk, and walk the walk
How can parents interact with schools to advance their student's math knowledge? Let's talk the same language! Our math specialists are working on a vocabulary list for each grade level that will allow us to speak the same mathematics language. For instance, do you remember when we used to "borrow" or "take away"? Unfortunately, there was never a plan to return anything! The correct terminology is "regrouping". At the secondary levels, teachers are coordinating math processes and procedures, so that all teachers are teaching them in similar manners. Please encourage these discussions with your child's teacher.
The first thing that we must do is change attitudes toward math. Don't say, "I was never good at math." This sends a subtle signal to children that math failure is expected and acceptable. Let's take a pro-active approach that we can all "do" math and be successful at it!
Please visit our website at www.carbonschools.org for links to websites that offer parent resources and please, visit your schools, begin discussions with your child/ren's teachers.