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Eastwood: New ideas to quicken math pace in classes

Eastwood-New-ideas-to-quicken-math-pace-in-classes

Pemberville Elementary School second-grade teacher Barb Brough conducts a game of Dollar Rummy with part of her math class last Thursday. The educational game is designed to teach students how to do addition by using number cards to add up to a dollar.

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Eastwood elementary-school students puzzled by multiplication or long division should understand the concepts quicker and more easily once school officials implement a math program next year.

The Eastwood Local Board of Education voiced approval late last month of "Everyday Mathematics," a program intended to teach children math at a quicker pace with exposures over time and frequent opportunities to practice and review - called a "spiraling component," said Chris Standring, school improvement specialist.

This way, she said teachers can introduce a few new concepts and review others at the same time, rather than simply teach one new topic followed by another new topic. The program uses practice through games, oral drills, and diagrams.

"The students are constantly learning and developing a deeper understanding of mathematics," Ms. Standring said. "It really helps students think critically, and I think that's a strong aspect."

Teachers felt they needed a new math program in the district's four elementary schools to meet changing state standards.

"It became apparent to us that our book we were presently using was not measuring up in every way," said Tom Lingenfelder, Pemberville and Webster elementary school principal.

Lisa Wank, a fifth-grade teacher at Pemberville elementary, said her students can solve problems on the chalkboard or in a workbook but have trouble applying the concepts, like percentages, to real-life situations, such as a sale at a store.

"I think our kids are very good with the computation but lack a math sense," she said. "They're just not math thinkers. Everyday Math is more complicated, and I think the kids who are really going to benefit are the younger kids because they won't know any other way."

To choose a program, a committee of 13 elementary school teachers and administrators met seven times throughout this school year for about two hours each time.

They asked representatives from three major mathematics publishing companies to give an overview of each program, visited schools that had reported good math scores, and made the unanimous decision to go with the Everyday Mathematics program published by McGraw-Hill-Wright Group that is widely used in elementary schools throughout the state, Ms. Standring said.

Mr. Lingenfelder said he was impressed with the program when he visited other schools that had implemented it.

"I think it teaches the children to think, and it teaches them there's more than one way to arrive at the correct answer through different approaches, like math games," he said. "We're looking forward to math scores increasing."

The initial cost of the program - which will pay for the materials, marker boards, calculators, and literature, among other costs - will be around $100,000, Ms. Standring said. Annual reorder costs for things such as journals, and study links will be more than $19,000.

A few teachers are piloting the math program in their classrooms, and the remaining teaching staff will be trained how to fully use the program during two in-service days late this school year.

To introduce parents to the new program, the district is hosting several "parents awareness nights" at the beginning of next school year.

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