NEW MATH CURRICULUM (GRADES 6-12)
Math does not change year after year. However, the materials to teach math have evolved by leaps and bounds in recent history.
Lakewood School District students in grades 6-12 are benefiting from those changes with new math materials this year. Teachers from Lakewood High and Lakewood Middle schools started exploring options in 2019. The group of eight reflected on the math practices currently taught identifying strengths and weaknesses. They identified themes from that work and then searched for materials reflecting those shared priorities and values.
After investigating many options, LearnZillion Illustrated Mathematics was selected and approved by Lakewood’s School Board. The new curriculum cost $100,739.72 and those funds were allocated from the district’s state revenue.
“These are materials I’ve never had before in my time teaching,” said MaryAnn LeGore, math teacher at Lakewood High School. She has been math teaching for 26 years. “I see students staying engaged and the learning is more fluid. It’s a different way of teaching math.”
Dense, printed textbooks are no longer commonplace in classrooms. LearnZillion features a digital learning experience and a classroom set of workbooks for students to complete their homework exercises on. Robust online resources are also available for use at home. The visual qualities and structure allow for greater retention of learning material. The curriculum helps teachers adjust or modify instruction, allowing each student to progress from their skill level. Each lesson, which includes a warm-up, activities, a cool-down, and practice problems, can be assigned to small groups as well as individual students.
Traditionally, teachers presented one lesson to an entire class, and repeated that same lesson with the next classes. Students would then go home and do the work using their thick textbooks. Some classrooms would use the same textbooks for years until the recent switch to digital. With this new math curriculum, students are learning in real time with their teachers. Having grown up in a digital world, Lakewood students are completely prepared to thrive in this environment. If the need to ever switch to fully online instruction arises, Lakewood math teachers will be ready together.
Another recent Lakewood improvement has been the adoption of digital learning platforms such as Clever. Clever offers a simple way to bring together technology, learning, and communication. Students benefit from having all the resources they need to do their work in one online location. Teachers appreciate creating personalized and organized digital lessons. Families value the one central location to stay in touch with their child's teacher(s) through the platform’s mobile app.
Other changes include screening students for reading weakness associated with dyslexia. Youth with this condition have difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding), according to the Mayo Clinic. The International Dyslexia Association also indicates students with dyslexia may also experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words making it difficult for a student to succeed academically.
A new state law mandates screenings of every student in Kindergarten, First and Second grade each year and begins this Fall. Classroom teachers will use the results of the assessment screeners to provide intervention and instruction to Lakewood students. A one-time opportunity for federal dollars helped fund the $15,000 in tools and books Lakewood teachers needed to properly screen for dyslexia.