IMPLEMENTING A DEEPER MATHEMATICAL UNDERSTANDING AMONG STUDENTS & TEACHERS: A FIELD REPORT FROM…
By: KATHY HIGHFIELD
Kathy Highfield is the Coordinator of Curriculum and Staff Development for Holly Area Schools, a rural school district in Oakland County, Michigan. This is the first year the district is using Eureka Math.
“The way the teachers are teaching this year, the focus is on really understanding how the numbers work. The number sense piece is huge.”
How did your district choose Eureka Math?
We did quite a bit of background research. We looked at different districts across the state and outside the state. What we found with many other resources was that they said they were Common Core-aligned, but when you looked a little deeper at the learning standards and then at the materials, we realized the depth of thinking wasn’t there.
How is implementation going so far?
It’s been an interesting transition. It’s such a drastic change, not only in the way students are doing math but what teachers are doing and need to know to teach math this way. It’s requiring a great deal of work on the part of the teachers. Teachers are going above and beyond.
There are a lot of things going well. Our elementary school teachers are so very impressed with the depth of mathematical learning. They’re very impressed with the depth of conversation students are having about math. There are many opportunities for student-to-student talk that’s built into the curricular materials.
What’s different about Eureka Math and the new college- and career-ready standards compared to past approaches?
With the old focus on math facts, that was a goal in itself. That was the end point. The way the teachers are teaching this year, the focus is on really understanding how the numbers work. The number sense piece is huge. Of course you have to multiply, but the multiplication ends up being the tool you use to get there instead of being the end goal.
How are teachers using the many resources that come with Eureka Math?
Teachers are making professional decisions. This is not a scripted program. It is a curriculum. I know how a curriculum is written. It’s intentionally written with a wealth of resources. Teachers have to make professional decisions from the resources about what works best for the students in their classrooms.