October 27, 2021
Teaching Mathematics for Understanding
As our math curriculum begins to advance to more challenging topics in the upcoming months, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you our approach and the reasoning behind how we teach mathematics.
When we attended school, a child’s success in mathematics was measured by their ability to memorize procedures and algorithms. If students could apply the right algorithm to the right questions they would get a passing grade; as a result most adults today do not have fond memories of their math class and struggled with or altogether avoided higher math courses because math was not meaningful. Luckily for our children this pedagogical approach has changed. Educational reformers have realized that students' ability to provide correct answers is not always an indicator of a high level of conceptual understanding. Teachers are asking their students to make meaning of what they are learning with the belief that math is logical and should make sense. Although algorithms do have a place in our curriculum, it is not taught until students are developmentally ready and are first given ample time to learn mathematics conceptually.
What does your child’s math class look like now? Discussion, exploration and questioning are the basic components of math class. Simply having the “correct answer” is not sufficient anymore. Students are asked to explain their thinking, to prove why their solutions are correct and be able to demonstrate understanding using a variety of methods. Teachers are continually providing learners with experiences that offer opportunities for new understandings, reinforcing that there is always more than one way to solve a problem. Students are also challenged to look at math as a necessary element in their everyday life (make real world connections). Research has shown that students in a conceptually oriented mathematics class [such as the one described] outperform students in a procedurally oriented mathematics class on tests and on measures of attitude toward mathematics. Our goal is to have students think like mathematicians and view themselves this way too. This is achieved by giving our students time to develop strategies and tools that support their learning in a classroom that balances the teaching of procedural and conceptual skills.
How can you support your child at home? Parents can easily extend math education at home by integrating math moments into everyday life. Bring your child’s attention to how you use math daily. Make math fun (bedtimemath.org). When your child uses math to solve a problem (doesn’t always apply to homework), ask them to share their thinking with you. Talking about math is one of the most effective ways to develop understanding. Refrain from teaching your child procedures if they are not able to explain why the process works in their own words (conceptual). Your child might be able to solve the problem at hand but if they don’t understand and can’t explain the math behind it, they will not be able to transfer this knowledge to more advanced classes (middle school math Algebra, Geometry).
If you would like a little bit more information about this topic please click on this link. This page has a brief overview about conceptual vs procedural mathematics and other useful information. It also has an interesting TedTalk embedded about teaching and learning mathematics.
Victoria Saldana, Director of Curriculum
As we head into the colder winter months, I thought this was a good time to share some general information with you about our policies and procedures for closing school, calling for a delay or possible early closing. The following are some quick answers to your most frequently asked questions.
Who makes the decision?
As the Superintendent it is my responsibility to make the decision about whether or not it is safe to open the schools in the case of inclement weather. I take this responsibility seriously and base the decision on a variety of sources of information. Many factors are considered in making the decision including road conditions, snow accumulations, temperature and icing, parking lot and sidewalk conditions and weather predictions.
How are decisions made?
To begin with, like you, I follow current local forecasts to get the most up-to-date weather predictions. As we all know from experience, the weather in New England is not always predictable and forecasts sometimes are incorrect. At the same time, I have to rely on the predictions of the local experts to make the most informed decision possible.
In addition to monitoring forecasts, I also consult with a variety of individuals throughout the course of the night. I am in constant communication with the Norfolk DPW, who provides me with up-to-date information regarding road and driving conditions. In addition, I consult with area superintendents including Wrentham, Plainville and King Phillip. When necessary, the police department and fire department are consulted as well.
What time are decisions made?
In order to call for a school cancellation or delay, a decision must be made by 5:45 a.m. This allows us time to notify news stations and send out a ConnectEd message to families prior to parents leaving for work and staff starting their journey into school. After this time, it is difficult to delay school, as we cannot be assured that all families will get the message in time, and there is a safety concern about students waiting outside for buses that are not coming or students who are being dropped off at school when there is no supervision available.
How are families notified?
In the case of a school cancellation, delay or possible early release, all families will be notified via our ConnectEd system. Early release calls are very rare, and are typically only made when families are notified in advance. We would not send students home early at this age without ensuring that a parent or family member was informed and home to meet them. Delayed openings are announced through ConnectEd and through the local radio and TV stations listed below. In the case of a one-hour delay, parents can expect bus pick up times to run one hour later than usual. The school day will begin one hour later- although lunches and other specials will run at their regularly scheduled times.
Where can you find information about school cancellations or delays?
- WBZ Storm Center - TV 4 and News Radio 1030
- WBUR Radio Boston
- WCVB - TV 5
- WFXT - Fox 25
- WRKO Storm Force - TV 7
- Norfolk Cable Channel NCTV
- All Rhode Island TV and Radio stations
In addition to getting the information on The BostonChannel.com, and individual network stations, you can also register directly with these individual sites to receive alerts on your preferred electronic device.
Please note that as a parent you always have the right to keep your child home from school if you are concerned about the weather or road conditions. While it is my responsibility to make the best decision I can on behalf of the schools and our community, I respect parents’ individual right to make a different decision if they feel it is in the best interest of their child.
Interested in exploring a new career opportunity? Consider becoming a part of our high performing, dedicated professional learning community! The Norfolk Public Schools are actively seeking candidates to fill the following positions:
- Special Education Permanent Building Substitute - DESE license required
- ABA Technician
- Instructional Assistants K-6- Training will be provided
For more information contact Roxanne Verdeaux at 508-528-1225
PTO sponsorship is back!
After being unable to hold our annual sponsorship drive last year, the PTO is excited to be able to move forward with this fundraiser to start the school year.
Sponsorship of the PTO is our biggest fundraiser, with 100% of the money raised going right back into Norfolk schools and students. Please see the attached letter and sponsorship form for more information about what sponsorship is, what the PTO does, and some fun items we are raffling off as part of this fundraiser.
Please print and return the sponsorship form along with your check to school with your child by Friday, November 19th, or make your donation online at www.memberplanet.com/s/norfolkmapto/sponsorship2021-2022
The Norfolk SEPAC looks forward to welcoming Preschool - 3rd grade families to the 7th annual Trunk or Treat at HOD!
The Norfolk SEPAC looks forward to welcoming Preschool - 3rd grade families to the 7th annual Trunk or Treat at HOD! Special guest-trunks include many Norfolk teachers and administrators, local community celebrities such as Officer Mitch, Mr. Ken, and more! A few notes and reminders about this special event:
- We still have room for more trunks! If you'd like to decorate your car and join in the fun please sign up here. Please note that "trunkers" are asked not to hand out candy or goodies at their cars. Due to COVID restrictions, all families will be receiving a pre-packed Trick or Treat bag for each child. Being a "trunk" just means bring yourselves and some creativity to the fun! Sign up here to volunteer to decorate a trunk: http://www.sepactrunks.eventbrite.com
- Available Tickets: We still have space available in our first 1/2 hour timeslot of the event from 5:30 to 6pm! Purchase your tickets here: http://www.2021sepactrunkortreat.eventbrite.com
- Parking: Given that this is a walk-through event we anticipate that parking will get crowded. Please join us during your purchased ticket-timeslot that all families can enjoy the event in their assigned window. Please check in at our SEPAC Corn Maze when you arrive to receive your trick or treat goodies!
Hip Hip Hooray! Norfolk Spirit Wear is here today!
Show your Norfolk spirit by purchasing Spirit Wear for your entire family! Click on the attached flyer for more details!
Click on link to view store: Store