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April 28, 2000     Cape Gazette
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April 28, 2000
 

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CAPE GAZETJPE, Friday, April 28 - May 4, 2000 - 15 Cape District teachers investigate new math curriculum By Jim Cresson Solving the problem of how best to teach math to students in the Cape Henlopen School Dis- trict, a committee of elementary and middle school math teachers reported this month the process should involve more than just teaching computing skills; it should teach students how to think mathematically. For nearly two hours at the Cape Henlopen School District Board of Education meeting Thursday, April 13, math teachers explained the conclusions they had reached during months of committee review of current math curriculums and the materials needed to support those curricu- lums. They also explained the driving forces behind the review as how to improve Cape students' basic computation skills while al- so teaching them how to think conceptually about math prob- lems. "Our current math curriculum in the K-8 grade levels requires ex- periential processes in order to devel- op an under- standing of the math con- cepts," ex- plained direc- tor of curricu- lum Dr. John Kreitzer. "It is KREITZER a very comprehensive curriculum designed to teach the reasons be- hind math processes so students learn how to figure in their heads." That curriculum, called Investi- gations, has been used at the high school level for the past five years and Kreitzer said it has been an in- strumental part of "slightly rais- ing" high school students' state standards-based math test scores. By using the Investigations cur- riculum in lower grade levels, as Cape district teachers are now do- ing, Kreitzer said students should show even more significant im- provements in their test scores in the years ahead, because they will have had a stronger foundation in the educational process. Investigations, designed to reach students of widely varying abilities, has been credited by teachers and students alike with making the math learning process more fun and understandable. It involves young students in such learning activities as easy-to-un- derstand hands-on exercises of cutting papers into equal parts in order to understand fractions. In the words of school board member Camilla Conlon, whose children have used the Investiga- tions curriculum in their classes: "The kids love Investigations math. It's fun and they get the right answers while also getting a better understanding of math con- cepts. Fourth grade multiplication is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. It's so good, I hear fifth graders are doing amazing math in their heads. And I hear that all stu- dents are able to learn math from this curriculum." Dr. Sally Cordrey, district ad- ministrator, said she supports the new Investigations curriculum be- cause it allows students to progress at their own learning rates and ultimately achieves the desired effect of teaching all stu- dents to think mathematically. "It makes me feel good that different learning styles are being ad- dressed through this curriculum," Cordrey said. "It's motivating kids to learn math - kids who may not have un- derstood math strategies through the more traditional methods of teaching." School board member Allan Redden wanted to know how heavily students depend on calcu- lators and computers to give them math answers. Teachers respond- ed that calculators and computers are no longer acceptable tools when solving math problems, be- cause they don't teach the students an understanding of what they're doing. Most teachers said they teach students to use such tools, but don't promote their use in the classroom. The Investigations curriculum, like so many other new math teaching methods over the past 30 years, has raised questions among many parents who don't under- stand it. As noted by school board member Estie Class: "Computa- tions, many people think, is the better way to prepare students for state tests. I have children who have studied Investigations and I worry they may need to focus more on basic computation skills." Math teachers answered that the Investigations curriculum is a dif- ferent way of doing the same thing. They said it is used best when combined with traditional math computation lessons. This prompted district superin- have an open house to familiarize tendent Dr. Andy Brandenberger, them with our new curriculum a former high school math and ease some of their concerns." teacher, to note: "We need tosay School board president June Investigations is our core curricu- Turansky concluded the curricu- lum, which certainly can be corn- lum discussion by saying: "Things plemented by any and all other are much clearer now for us. teaching resources available to We've enjoyed hearing such a our faculty. We have good math great presentation on education, teachers in this district, and good and we ask you teachers to contin- math teachers always find a way ue working together to decide to teach students. If parents are what is best for our children in all concerned, perhaps we should grades." .WE'LL PAY CASH:. qli ! hg. Bullion & Inc. ! l is in need of Good, Clean [ 1 Used Cars, Trucks, & Vans [ 3o2-z63-3o46 ,o 3RD SEAT, REAR NC, LEATHER. '93 SAAB 900S CONV. 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