The 2019-20 school year is off to a great start! Now that we are a few weeks into the school year, routines and expectations have been established and students are back into the full swing of learning and growing. As we dive into the curriculum and set our sights on supporting students in meeting the Washington State Learning Standards, we wanted to let you know about some substantial updates we have made to the math and reading curriculum we use in our elementary schools.
To better align our math curriculum with the Washington State Learning Standards and to support all of our students in becoming proficient in math, we have adopted Eureka Math, the most widely used math curriculum in the United States. This curriculum provides our teachers with standards-aligned materials to support students' understanding of mathematics and prepare them to meet grade-level standards as assessed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA).
The Eureka Math curriculum is built around the core principle that students need to know more than just what works when solving a problem - they need to understand why it works. The curriculum goes beyond facts and formulas, teaching students to think about math conceptually. This helps students become not merely literate, but fluent in math.
These methods of learning about math are likely very different than how most of today's adults learned about math as young students and therefore, we have many resources available that will help you support your child in becoming proficient in math.
Math Night for Parents - We will be hosting a Math Night (in addition to Curriculum Night) for parents this fall at each of our elementary schools, where parents are invited to learn about how we are teaching math and how to best support their students in math at home. More details about this will be coming soon.
Online Parent Accounts - parents can set up free online parent account at https://greatminds.org/math to access:
- Parent Tip Sheets - Tip sheets by grade level & topic that include suggested strategies and models, key vocabulary, and tips for how you can support learning at home.
- Homework Helpers - step-by-step explanations of how (and why!) to work problems similar to those found in your child's Eureka Math homework assignments. There is a Homework Helper to go with every homework assignment in the curriculum. Monroe School District has purchased licenses to the online Homework Helpers for our elementary parents. The code to access this resource was emailed home to all elementary families. If you did not receive the emailed instructions, please contact your child's teacher.
- Grade Level Road Maps - an overview of what your child will be studying in the coming year with strategies you can use to facilitate learning outside of the classroom. These grade-specific roadmaps are a great way to bridge the gap between the way math was once taught and the techniques used in Eureka Math.
We have moved to a "balanced literacy" approach to teaching reading and writing in our elementary schools. Balanced literacy incorporates the "I do - We do - You do" model into instruction through the context of readers workshops.
1. Teacher MODELS (I do)
- Interactive read-aloud where teachers model reading strategies
2. Teacher SUPPORTS learners as they practice it (we do)
- Shared reading - reading "grade level" text and practicing reading strategies together as a whole group
- Guided Reading - focused instruction in small groups
- Strategy Lessons - small group targeted strategy instruction focused on students' needs
- Conferring one-on-one with learners - meeting individually with learners to support and offer feedback on reading
3. Learners WORK INDEPENDENTLY (you do)
- Independent reading time where learners are encouraged to apply what they know to their own reading
Gone are the days of using the same old boring textbook to teach reading. Now our students are encouraged to select their own novels and books of interest to keep them engaged in their learning. To support this approach, we added over 5,000 high-interest books to each of our five elementary schools (25,000 books total!) to support balanced literacy instruction last year. This summer we purchased all of the necessary curriculum materials to fully support balanced literacy instruction. Some of our schools chose to go with the Fountas and Pinnell Classroom instructional materials while others chose the Lucy Calkins Units of Study materials. Both sets of materials focus on the same components of balanced literacy instruction.
In addition to our new reading and math curriculum, we have also implemented an assessment and instruction tool called i-Ready in grades K-5 this year. Most of our elementary schools and both middle schools piloted this program last year with great success. This tool is similar to the STAR assessment tool we used in past years and will assess student learning in reading and math three times throughout the school year. We have fully transitioned from using STAR to i-Ready this year to better support students in meeting the Washington State Learning Standards and to provide teachers with an in-depth analysis of students' abilities.
i-Ready does not replace daily instruction that students already receive, nor does it replace the curriculum. Please visit our website for more information on the program and how we will be using i-Ready in the classroom.
As always, thank you for your continued support and for being a partner in your child's learning! We encourage all of our parents to attend our elementary school Curriculum Night on October 3rd, where you will have the opportunity to hear more about all of our curriculum. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your child's teacher, school principal or myself.
Dr. Justin Blasko
Assistant Superintendent of Learning & Teaching