Math results get top marks from Chinook official

Following a successful implementation of Chinook School Division’s new Math Momentum initiative last year, Superintendent of Curriculum Bob Vavra was pleased to provide an update to the board at last week’s meeting.

“We had an 11% growth last year in our math results, and we are looking for just as much or more of an increase this year,” Vavra explained. “Last year, we focused initially on just building teacher capacity, and now we will begin to move down to the classroom level, working with specific strategies in classrooms to target the needs of our students.”
Teachers were able to develop a deeper understanding of how students learn math through programs like First Steps in Math and Numeracy Nets, which explained the five stages of learning through which students progress.
Next year, the division will begin developing ‘math blocks’, a designated period of time to focus on math, with strategies and diagnostics built in. This will enable them to see where students are at, and help them progress even further.
“We did a lot of research, initially, on best practices in literacy and in mathematics,” noted Vavra. “We built a model to put in some learning coaches, which really helped a lot, and the dashboards we use to help teachers see where each individual student is at have really made a difference for teachers.”
Vavra is confident that due to the success of the board’s previous initiative, Balanced Literacy, will continue with Math Momentum. However, literacy remains a priority for the division, and they are still seeing positive results.
“I’m pretty sure the board will be setting goals even beyond where we are at now,” Vavra said. “We had set a goal to get to 80% of our students meeting or exceeding expectations in those areas, and we actually made it up to 84%. Now, we are looking to push that number even higher.”
Another focus for the board is the new Science Pathways coming out, with pilots in place for the 2013-2014 school year. Provincially, the new curriculum will be coming out in 2014-2015.
“That has posed challenges in the past, as we saw with the new Math Pathways, because it’s always a challenge to work with schools and teachers to build an understanding of how that will be implemented,” Vavra explained. “It’s very beneficial for us to have our cyber school, which gives us the flexibility to take those new pathways to schools that wouldn’t otherwise be able to offer them.”
The cyber school has been a huge benefit to the division in many ways, especially with expanding the curriculum offered to distance learners. With over 50 courses developed and delivered to students across Chinook, learners are able to take electives like Cosmetology or Energy and Mines in facilities that previously wouldn’t have had the resources available.
“We try hard to provide educational opportunities to meet the needs of our students, by surveying what they want and responding to that with a distance learning offering,” said Vavra. “It offers great opportunities for our rural schools, and we try to support them as much as we can through these offerings. We’ve managed to expand on the program and offer higher level electives, as well, so that students are able to progress through the courses wherever they are.”

via SW Sask News – Prairie Post – Prairie Post

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