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Mr. Drew Gamet » How are we teaching mathematics?

How are we teaching mathematics?

The Redondo Beach Unified School District has adopted Eureka Math as our curriculum for Mathematics in grades TK-5. The adoption of Common Core Standards has led to three key shifts in Math: 1- a focus on fewer topics, 2- a linking of concepts across grade levels and, 3- an increase in rigor for students in the areas of conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency and in application. (For additional reading, click here)
 
As a district, we have chosen to adopt Eureka Math as our curriculum so as to address the shifts in standards in the following ways:
 
1. Greater focus on fewer topics
Eureka Math's content is organized around a "story" that unifies its content. In TK-5, it is called "A Story of Units". This story builds students' understanding of and ability to manipulate units. The standards call for students to study cases such as whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and measurements. Through their study, students learn about commonalities between units (e.g., they can be added, subtracted, multiplied and divided). Students also learn the unique features of some units (e.g, a rectangle's area units can be calculated by multiplying the rectangle's length and width).
 
Focus is also evident because the standard clusters that address major work make up approximately three-fourths of a grade level's material. Standard clusters of supporting, complementary topics are used to connect core understandings. Additional work clusters introduce other key ideas.
 
2. Coherence: Linking topics and thinking across grades
 Whether across a story, a grade band, a grade level, or a module, sequence is everything. Using its theme as an anchor, each Eureka Math story systematically organizes standards to leverage connections between concepts. Connections support students to access new learning and integrate it into developing schemas. The progression of conceptual understanding moves from simple to complex. At times that movement may be evident within a lesson, across a module, across a grade level, or even across grade bands.
 
Eureka Math's use of a specific set of models (e.g., tape diagrams, number line) further supports coherence. Using a consistent set of models over time allows students to develop familiarity with them. As new concepts and skills are introduced, prior experience using the model in other situations naturally encourages students to make connections between content. Those connections deepen understanding. 
 
3. Rigor: Pursue conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency, and application with equal intensity
 
Different lesson types and suggested delivery methods invite students to practice, explore, collaborate, and share and critique work with peers. The daily Student Debrief is a critical lesson component that provides ongoing opportunities for students to reflect on their learning about mathematics, recognizing patterns, and verbalizing connections between new and prior learning.
 
A menu of Fluency Practice helps students in Kindergarten through Grade 5 develop speed and accuracy. The curriculum suggests specific activities to maintain existing skills, to prepare for the current lesson practicing recently learned skills and to anticipate skills for upcoming lessons. Daily Fluency Practice is a substantial component of each lesson.
 
Modules include problems that encourage students to think quantitatively and creatively and that provide opportunities for students to model situations using mathematics. A range of problems serve multiple purposes, and different lesson types and suggested delivery methods invite students to apply their mathematical knowledge in a variety of contexts.
 
-from Great Minds, 2018 (greatminds.org)