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September 22, 2017
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Stillwater News

New elementary math program aligned with Common Core Learning Standards

Program teaches students to focus on deeper understanding of fewer math concepts

Sept. 12, 2013 — It’s no secret that for many adults math stands out as their least favorite school subject, and it’s the one they struggle most with after high school. Compounding the problem for some is the fact that daunting formulas and algorithms can at times seem completely disconnected from any possible real world application.

For much of the past school year, a building-wide committee at Stillwater Elementary School piloted a new math program from Pearson Education called enVision MATH. The program combines hands-on math activities and visual learning strategies to help students make more meaningful connections.

The introduction of the new math program comes at a time of massive changes in curriculum, testing and scoring practices due to the newly adopted state Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) for math and English language arts.

“Our teachers have been using the same math textbook for over ten years,” said PK-12 Assistant Principal John Powell. “Teachers began learning about, and implementing changes based on, the Common Core during the 2011-12 school year. As our understanding of the shifts in focus grew it became apparent that it was time to find a program which would closely align with the new curriculum. Even more importantly we wanted a program designed to help students develop a deeper understanding of math concepts while becoming more effective problem solvers.”

There is also a focus on visual learning with emphasis on reasoning and modeling. EnVision MATH uses bar diagram models to help students make sense of the problem.

“The bar model approach becomes even more powerful when you realize that the publisher revisits this way of representing math concepts year after year. The consistency in approach across grade levels is one of the qualities which attracted the school to this series,” said Powell.

During the 2013-14 school year, a trainer from Pearson will be working with Stillwater teachers in kindergarten through fifth-grade as they implement the new enVision MATH strategies within their classrooms. The trainer will meet with teachers to discuss aspects of the program such as problem-based instruction, where students actively resolve complex problems in realistic situations either individually or through small-group interaction.

Part of a larger picture

As Stillwater teachers and administrators work to implement the new national standards, Superintendent Stanley Maziejka points out that the new enVision Math curriculum is simply one aspect of a larger goal to help all Stillwater students prepare for life after school.

With this goal in mind, there are a number of initiatives Stillwater currently offers aimed at preparing students academically, socially, emotionally and physically. These include:

  • A variety of new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning and enrichment initiatives offered during the school year at the elementary level. The district is exploring offering such activities at the middle school this year;
  • A number of character education and antibullying programs that support the social and emotional well-being of students at all levels;
  • An offering of four Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and 13 college-level courses; and
  • A variety of opportunities to help out in the community, including the annual Warrior Walk and SHS Gives Back Day.
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