A meeting to discuss new mathematics teaching strategies within the largest lake-area school district drew a large crowd of parents looking to understand why the district made the change.

A meeting to discuss new mathematics teaching strategies within the largest lake-area school district drew a large crowd of parents looking to understand why the district made the change.

In 2008, the Camdenton R-III School District implemented inquiry-based math strategies into the curriculum on top of the traditional strategies that are still taught today.

This year, the district is piloting two different resources in order to teach those strategies — Math in Focus and Engage New York. Different students are learning from different resources. Some may speak out and wonder why that is, others may see what their students bring home and wonder how they are supposed to teach something that they do not know how to do themselves.

That is exactly why the district hosted a parent night on Tuesday in the Camdenton Middle School Little Theater.

“The purpose was to ease parents’ minds. I want them to realize that we are partnering with them on this,” Assistant Superintendent Ryan Neal said. “We have to be more rigorous. We have to do more to prepare our students for the 21st century.”

A total of 70 individuals showed up to the parent night to hear from expert Ricky Mikelman. Mikelman is a trainer with Singapore Math and was speaking to parents in an attempt to inform them and explain the concepts to them.

“We need our children to be thinkers and problem solvers,” Mikelman said to the crowd.

The inquiry strategies offer a different way to approach math problems rather than just the traditional approaches. The new strategies are simply supplemental and are not replacing traditional math.

“They [students] are still going to learn the basics,” Mikelman assured the parents. “They will still learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide.”

Mikelman also walked the attendees through the purpose of the inquiry-based strategies. She told them that teachers will be covering less but more in depth, encouraging algebraic skills at a young age and offering more problem solving and model drawing.

The attendees were shown step by steps how to complete different problems.

Mikelman encouraged the parents in the room to be a part of their child’s education and to teach them outside of the classroom.

“Be transparent with math,” she told the crowd.

She encouraged them to explain what they are doing when measuring ingredients when cooking, driving miles and estimating costs. Mikelman recommended finding real life examples to incorporate math into daily.

She also told parents not to say, “I’m not good at math” if they do not know how to do a problem. Instead, she told parents to ask their student to explain the problem to them. If they cannot figure it out, she said to spend the same amount of time that they would have on the assignment on a different math skill and to write the teacher a letter explaining the issue.

“This is a process. It is not a change that will happen overnight,” Mikelman said.

After explaining the strategies and answering a few questions, the parent night ended exactly an hour later.

“I think that most people that turned out came with concerns and left with answers,” Neal said. “My only regret is that we didn’t do this sooner.”

Resources:

www.bedtimemath.org

www.gregtangmath.com