Making Strides for Math Teaching Methods

By Kate Anslinger

During Monday night’s School Committee meeting, Curriculum Director Frank Woods gave an update on the ongoing math issue in the district.

Since the beginning of February, a designated math committee has been meeting regularly to discuss ways to raise student scores. Looney Math Consulting, a firm dedicated to ongoing professional development, has been hired and has proven great success with the teachers.

A lead consultant assesses the situation by sitting in classrooms for half-hour increments, before meeting with a focus group at the end of the day.

“It has been extremely beneficial to the committee in finding out what is wrong,” said Woods.

In addition to utilizing the consulting firm, Woods has reached out to Houghton-Mifflin for advice on the teaching methods and reviewed several scholarly articles. One of the things that was discovered was that the Go Math program is the most successful program for teaching common core math standards, however, it is important to complete lessons in sequential order, something that the district got away from when they became part of the five-district partnership.

“We had started to pull things from different chapters, but it’s important to implement a more vertical alignment of how and when we teach,” said Woods.

The math committee plans to continue with professional development workshops with Looney Math Consulting over the next year, as the feedback from teachers has been outstanding.

“They like the fact that she takes the math and goes from a concrete approach and moves it to something more abstract,” Woods said of the lead consultant.

Math training has become more of an individualized process, which allows for students to move at their own pace which leads to a more thorough understanding of the subject.

“I’m noticing our teachers are starting to be more honest about the curriculum, which is what will drive more improvements,” said School Superintendent John Macero.

In other business:

  • The auditorium at the new high school/middle school will be named The Neil Shapiro Center for Performing Arts.
  • The learning center at the new high school/middle school will be named The Facella Learning Commons, in honor of Norma and Paul Facella who have contributed millions of dollars in scholarships to Winthrop students.

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