With Mathematics and Computer Science identified as an ongoing priority within The Success Effect plan, the teachers and leaders in the Mathematics Department have been quietly going about the business of strengthening instruction, increasing communication, and reaching all students with meaningful learning.
Key Area: Learning
Priority Action Area: Literacy & Early Learning
During the mathematics instructional materials adoption of 2013, the district-wide committees identified three focus areas for instruction that have now become our Pillars for Instructional Excellence in Mathematics. These three Pillars are:
- Skills fluency demonstrated through rigorous application
- Student discourse through speaking, listening, reading and writing for a variety of audiences
- Varied and regular assessment to guide instruction and monitor progress
Coincidentally, these pillars directly align with the goals of the The Success Effect learning priorities and the Math Design Team Action Plan: “the identification of instructional best practices within and outside of the BVSD. Once these best practices are identified, we propose actions to ensure these practices and expectations are consistent across the district.“
Priority Action Area: Systems of Support
The mathematics classroom is a wonderful place to meet the goals of this Success Effect area: “inclusive learning environments, … strong assessment practices, and … clear processes for instruction and layered interventions that meet students where they are and move them forward.” The Mathematics Department has been working closely with other district leaders and teachers to create common assessments, support teachers in making the math classroom a safe, equitable learning space and help teachers identify ways to differentiate instruction to meet students’ needs.
As part of Success Effect assessment strategy, the Mathematics Department is tasked with developing the first common end of course assessments for summative use for Algebra 1. Our Secondary Math Specialist, Bertha Orona, is leading a creative group of teachers in developing this assessment, which will be piloted this Spring for implementation for all Algebra 1 students in 2018. This assessment will give teachers, schools and the district important programmatic data on the effectiveness of our instruction. We are also fine-tuning common end of course assessments for 6th and 7th grade. These were made last year by our Math Liaisons and, while voluntary, offer teachers a common way to discuss student learning. Additionally, we are partnering with Jefferson County School District Math leaders to create effective end of year assessments for K through 5th grade that teachers may use to evaluate student learning. These assessment tools strengthen our ability to meet students’ learning needs.
The assessment work aligns with the Math Design Team Action Plan for the Success Effect, which emphasizes “the importance of common and consistent assessment and grading practices across the district to further extend the guaranteed viable curriculum … to create common understanding of the student mastery of content and to provide accurate and consistent information that allows instruction to be individualized more effectively.”
Strategy: Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)
The Math Department has directly supported the work in this area by collaborating with the MTSS Steering Committee to create a professional learning workshop focusing on the power of Socio-emotional Learning (SEL) in the mathematics classroom. This workshop was featured in almost half of our elementary schools during the Professional Learning Day on October 10th. Additionally, all of our professional learning opportunities for math teachers incorporate equitable instructional practices, cultural awareness, student discourse, engagement and specific strategies for struggling students.
The Math Design Team Action Plan specifically addressed “developing a systematic support scheme for all students in Mathematics courses across the district. These items start from scratch with an evaluation of current state and complete with developing researched recommendations for intervention procedures and programs.” It is our hope that, over the next few years, BVSD will have the opportunity to research, evaluate and adopt an intervention system for the entire PK-12 mathematics system. The Math Director and Instructional Specialists are working with the Special Education Department to create a rich body of resources for our Special Education teachers to use to support and differentiate student learning at all levels, including those with accommodations and specific learning disabilities.
Priority Action Area: Successful, Curious, Lifelong Learners
Jackie Weber, the Director of Mathematics, is involved in the Graduation Requirements Committee discussions. In particularly, the committee is looking at course requirements (“What Math classes do students really need to be successful after highschool?”) and what graduation pathways might provide students with engaging and meaningful opportunities to apply their mathematics learning. This is a truly exciting opportunity to redefine mathematics requirements through the lens of College and Career Readiness.
Key Area: Partnerships
Priority Action Area: Parent & Family Partnerships
The Mathematics Department has been working closely with Madeleine Case, Director for Family and Parent Partnerships, to support teacher-parent cooperation and involvement in their math education. Madeleine offered a professional learning workshop on parent engagement in secondary mathematics classrooms. She also provides support to math teachers and the Math Department with Family Math Nights, The Sum Newsletter, and Translation and Interpretation Services. Two three-course sections of the Community Math Series are available for our BVSD parent community. The next section will be in late winter – dates announced soon!
Key Area: Talent
Priority Action Area: Educator Growth & Development
The final theme in the Math Design Team Action Plan involved professional development for teachers and administrators. The Mathematics Department is fortunate to have four expert educators as Instructional Specialists as well as a cohort of instructional leaders in our School-based Math Liaisons. These instructional leaders provide learning opportunities for their colleagues in an embedded fashion that helps teachers meet their educational growth priorities. This year, the Math Department is offering six professional learning courses for teachers throughout the year. In addition to these, there are specific workshops designed for principals, para-educators and other members of the BVSD Educator community.
By Jackie Weber, Director of Mathematics