A focus of the work at my school this year has been to define the curriculum to ensure it’s aligned with the Common Core standards. Investigations was chosen as the curriculum many years ago, but there wasn’t follow up professional development so teachers were on their own in trying to implement it after the initial PD. Some grades worked and planned together, but others had been going it alone. Grade levels have begun working together to share what they are teaching and when they are teaching it. They are developing pacing guides to help ensure they teach all that is required at each grade level.
Teachers at the end of last year committed to teaching an hour of math each day, but it hasn’t always been happening. Sometimes it is due to weaknesses in the schedule, which chops up the day with specials and more. We have talked about developing a master schedule, which protects the math block (as well as the reading and writing blocks) as uninterrupted time for classroom teachers. Next year the district is recommending that in addition to an hour a day for math instruction, we also have 30 additional minutes for additional intervention or extensions.
We have some great opportunities for integrated projects next year as the P.T.A. has purchased a weather station for the school. There are also many garden projects, which afford many opportunities for math connections.
Assessment is an area where there is still a lot of work to be done. Currently in our building only one grade level team administers common pre and post assessments and compares the results. There aren’t district expectations in this area so grade level teams are talking about this being a major focus of summer work and beyond. It’s work that will take time, but we believe it’s worth doing.
Of the first seven components I would say thatour biggest challenge is instructional materials. We no longer use the same materials - in an effort to follow a standards based program many of our teachers have developed their own materials and no longer use the adopted program (CMP). We use the common core standards as our curriculum and although it is stressed by administration that we "unpack" standards as a grade level most teachers have interpreted them on their own, thus we have some people reading too much into them or we have people not reading enough. We need to get back to the CMP program so that our students all have a similar experience of text, information and activities.
I would say that our celebration would be the assessment of students. We are using the data that is provided by the NWEA, NECAP, AimsWeb in an effort to see the whole child. We discuss the data with parents at conferences and we discuss it with the students so that they have the opportunity to create goals and to take ownership of their learning. We also have at least an hour of class time - becomes 55 minutes after change of classes. We also set aside an hour/day for RTI time that is used for added intstruction by the teacher, the GT teacher, or the math or reading specialists.
ATOMIM is an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in New England.