Curriculum Corner

Robbinsville's Quarterly Curriculum Department Newsletter

Welcome!

Dear Robbinsville Community,


Happy Fall! It's hard to believe that we're entering our third month of school, but here we are! This issue of Curriculum Corner highlights our math program. As mentioned in our previous Robbinsville Ready Skills newsletter, we aim to cultivate students who not only know content, but utilize skills such as perseverance, critical thinking, effective communication, emotional intelligence, collaboration, and resilience. Our math classes support this work with what's known as the Mathematical Practices; these skills that are embedded into the K-12 Math standards.


The 8 practices include:


  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively
  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
  • Model with mathematics (applying math skills to real-world situations)
  • Use appropriate tools strategically (knowing which tools and resources to use when solving a problem)
  • Attend to precision
  • Look for and make use of structure (identifying similar ways to solve problems and apply tactics to solve problems out of one's comfort zone)
  • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning (applying mathematical reasoning to a variety of different problems)


We are working with staff to learn how to infuse these practices into our daily instruction so that students make connections across various mathematical content areas and begin honing these important skills. We are also helping students self-assess their use of these practices and set goals for future learning. Please see below for more information about what's happening in our math classrooms! A special thanks to Tiffany Brennan, 7-12 Math Supervisor, and Renee Cucinotti and Jill Vaz, K-5 Math Instructional Coaches, for contributing to our newsletter.


Sincerely,

Kimberly Tew, Ed.D.

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction

K-5 Math

Our K-5 students are working hard as mathematicians in the classroom and our teachers are loving the excitement building around math each day. Within the classroom, our teachers have been creating a positive classroom environment using growth mindset techniques.

We are also hard at work implementing a variety of best practices within the classroom. This includes transitioning to a workshop approach towards teaching math and implementing the mathematical practices into our daily lessons. Math workshop is a style of instruction that includes a mini-lesson, as well as differentiated activities to meet the needs of all learners. As our students work through each lesson, they utilize the mathematical practices. The Mathematical Practices include problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation and conceptual understanding. These give students the opportunity to think about the work they are doing as well as how and why they are doing it, rather than just arriving at an answer. For example, students demonstrating mathematical practices when solving a problem about measurement will need to think about the most appropriate measurement tool they need to use to solve that particular problem. They will also need to include unit labels to attend to precision and make connections to whether their solution makes sense in the real world.

Building fact fluency is a crucial step towards promoting mathematical literacy and therefore further developing a deeper conceptual understanding. This is done in a variety of different ways in each classroom. Some examples may include fact strategies, math games, math fact running records, morning meeting activities and lessons within each grade level of our Everyday Math program.

We can't wait to see what the rest of the year brings in K-5 math!

6-12 Math Practices

6-12 grade teachers have been working hard on further strengthening their math instruction. Throughout the fall, the Pond and RHS math teachers have been focusing on the New Jersey Student Learning Standards’ Eight Mathematical Practices. Teachers have attended additional outside workshops as well as monthly Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings to discuss instruction and how to embed and assess the practices and other core mathematical skills. The teachers spent time listing what each of these practices looks like in their classrooms and discussing ways to incorporate them even more.

Algebra I Refocus

Algebra 1 has always been the cornerstone of higher level mathematics. With New Jersey’s current high school graduation requirement of passing the state Algebra 1 test, we have renewed our focus on strengthening our curriculum and instruction in that course. Six Algebra 1 teachers spent a full day delving into diagnostic data on their students, pouring through instructional resources, collaborating on activities and assessments, and planning individualized experiences for student instruction. They’re creating more student-centered classrooms, building math stamina in their students, and are providing targeted feedback on individual student weaknesses.


Some of resources the department is exploring more deeply are Stanford University professor Jo Boaler's Mindset Mathematics and Dan Meyer's Three Act Math. These mathematicians emphasize how to develop a growth mindset in math, make math more visual, and use authentic problems to deepen student engagement and understanding. With teachers using these resources, students have been getting out of their seats to collaborate with classmates. They’ve been gathering data, analyzing data and relationships, and even creating their own problems. Our learners are discovering how problem-solving in Algebra strengthens their brain for improvements in all academic areas, just like lifting weights can strengthen their muscles for improvements in their favorite sport. We look forward to this continued work and discovering how it helps students not only improve their content knowledge, but skills such as critical thinking, reasoning, collaboration, resilience, and communication.

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No Homework Night on December 19th

Please save the date for Robbinsville's first No Homework Night of the school year, in honor of Dr. Steven Mayer and the Winter Solstice. The district's second No Homework Night will be in March. Thank you for your continued support!
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