Monday, May 24, 1999

New math added at Talawanda

Focus changes from 'tell me how to do it' to 'how can I do it?'

Enquirer Contributor

        OXFORD — Goodbye textbooks, hello math cubes and other hands-on tools. Talawanda schools have adopted new math programs that encourage students to work together to find solutions to problems.

        Instead of using drill worksheets, the new tools will be blocks, cubes or shapes, or common items such as M&M's. The candy is used by elementary children who count how many of each color are in a bag, then graph the results before eating them.

        Beginning in August, students in kindergarten through fifth grade will use the Investigations Program, and those in grades 6-8 will use Connected Math. Both align with the model recommended by the Ohio Department of Education and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Superintendent Susan Cobb said.

        “This program gets away from worksheets and drill papers and puts more emphasis on greater understanding of math concepts,” Ms. Cobb said. “It's a more collaborative, student-centered approach to problem solving.”

        That doesn't mean students won't have to know basic math facts, but it does mean they will be using a series of booklets, each devoted to a single topic or related topics.

        This year, two teachers at every grade level are piloting the programs, which have received the endorsement of the district's Math Curriculum Committee.

        “It really gives the opportunity to think and get excited about thinking,” said sixth-grade math teacher Don Gloeckner.

        “The focus changes from "tell me how to do it' to "how can I do it?' They discover on their own and validate what they do themselves. I think it's going to have a big impact.”

        To further enhance student performance, Middle School Principal Rhonda Bohannon said the sixth-grade study period will be eliminated to allow for a double period — about 84 minutes — of math, similar to the language arts block.

        Two new teaching positions were approved to facilitate the change.

        Ms. Bohannon said research supports the hands-on approach to learning math in the new program along with the concepts taught.


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- New math added at Talawanda