CCPS Teachers Prepare for New Math Standards

Being a Clarke County teacher isn’t just about sharing knowledge with students. The role requires continuous work to keep instruction skills sharp so that students receive the best educational training possible. That’s why the Boyce Elementary teaching staff met after a full day of teaching last Wednesday for instruction on standards of learning changes to the mathematics curriculum.

“Mathematics content has been under review by Virginia’s Department of Education and new Standards of Learning have been approved” said Clarke County Public Schools Director of Curriculum and Instruction Lisa Floyd. “This means that for the 2010-2011 school year teachers will be required to teach the 2001 Standards of Learning as well as the new 2009 standards. For the 2011-2012 school year only the 2009 Standards of Learning will need to be taught and tested.”

Boyce Elementary School teachers prepare for teaching new mathematics learning goals - Photo Edward Leonard

Moving from the 2001 standard to the more current mathematics approach means a lot of work for instructors beginning with simply understanding which concepts have changed and which concepts remain the same. That’s why two Boyce Elementary instructors, Kindergarten teacher Erin Wymer and 2nd Grade teacher Rayanna Davis, were selected to lead the teaching team through a series of exercises designed to efficiently communicate the new curriculum changes.

“Standards of Learning begin in Kidergarten and follow all the way through high school” Wymer said when asked why the entire Boyce teaching staff, which spans Kindergarten through 5th grade instructors, should receive the SOL training together. “It’s important for each grade level to understand what the other teachers are presenting.”

The change in content means that teachers must focus on pacing to ensure all material is appropriately covered to mastery by students. Wymer and Davis attended a Virginia Department of Education ‘math institutes’ to learn about the new Standards and to share the information with both colleagues at Boyce Elementary as well as elementary teachers at Berryville Primary and D. G. Cooley. The guiding document for the transition from old standards to new, known as a “crosswalk:, is used to align the Standards of Learning with state students Standards of Learning assessments.

“Think ’orange’ for ‘old’ and ‘blue’ for ‘new’” Rayanna Davis said as she passed out SOL summary documents designed to help her teacher-students learn the new teaching objective. “Throw the old standards on the floor because we’re not focusing on them anymore.”

”The goal is for teachers to have an opportunity to see how the Standards of Learning have changed and to track those changes so adjustments may be made in their instruction this year” said Lisa Floyd. After learning and understanding the new SOL approaches, each individual instructor must integrate the new concepts into their teaching materials and approach. The success of each teacher’s ability to communicate the new approaches and materials to students is measured by student performance on individual SOL mathematics tests.

Boyce Elementary School Principal Susan Catlett particpates in K-5 mathematics Standards Of Learning training - Photo Edward Leonard

“The teacher is required to determine how to deliver the new concepts but administrators are responsible for monitoring the instructional pacing as well as interim testing to make sure that students are learning the material being taught” Floyd said.

During the training session Wymer and Davis led the other Boyce teachers through a series of poster-making exercises where small groups of teachers identified the new or different concepts that needed to be taught for each class level. Discussion included subjects like fractions, number patterns, geometry and measurement. Each teacher group then presented their findings to the others.

For example, the teachers learned that 1st Graders will now be required to learn both analog and digital clocks, (previously only one clock format was required) while 3rd Graders will be required to tell time to the nearest minute. 4th Graders must now be able to recognize images of figures resulting from geometric transformations, such as translation, reflection and rotation however, instructors must remove the terms slide, flip and turn when presenting the materials.

After the session several teachers said that being presented with the changes for all elementary class levels provided a valuable perspective.

Kindergarten teacher Pam Thompson said “We lay the math foundation and the other teachers build on it. It’s good for all of us to see the changes to the entire curriculum.” Kindergarten teachers Wendy Rae Venskoske and Joyce Eller agreed. “I like the pocess of seeing the alignment from one grade level to the next” Eller said.

The goal of SOL instructor training is to ease the burden for teachers during the transition from one set of standards to the next according to Lisa Floyd. “Imagine if teachers are just given both sets of Standards with no guidance other than, ‘Teach these’. This training should help teachers target the changes in the Standards, know where to spend more and less instructional time, and to know what to measure in their classrooms as they work to get students to mastery. Additionally, by meeting with all grade levels, teachers are able to see the vertical alignment of the Standards and what to prepare students for as they progress from grade level to grade level.”

(l-r) Boyce Elementary Kindergarten teachers Pam Thompson, Wendy Rae Venskoske and Joyce Eller review new mathematics learning objectives - Photo Edward Leonard

Because Standards of Learning changes affect all grades, every teacher of the elementary schools will be exposed to SOL training by Wymer and Davis. Middle and high school teachers will experience similar training but with different content in the near future.

Elementary school training will continue at DG Cooley Elementary on Wednesday, December 1 at 3:45 p.m.