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Collaboration Spotlight with Earlham: Making Strides in Math Proficiency

Earlham Elementary and Heartland AEA staff were collaborating on technology and iPad use in classrooms when conversations began about strategies to build students’ math proficiency. 

While looking at the technology and the multiple ways of thinking and solving problems, great discussions occurred between Diane Royer, Heartland AEA Mathematics Curriculum Consultant, and the teachers revolving around increasing students' number sense and problem solving capacity. These conversations evolved to updating their curricular materials to focus more deeply on the Iowa Core. This led to a decision by the district to want to update their K-6 mathematics curriculum to Everyday Mathematics 4 (EM4). The upgrade contained significant changes. Most notably were changes to focus on the core content standards required at each grade level and increased student engagement in the standards for mathematical practice. 

Heartland AEA developed professional learning sessions to support staff's understanding of the focus, coherence and rigor required by the Iowa Core. Staff explored conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and application and what coherence truly means not only in terms of their grade level, but in the overall picture of mathematics from kindergarten through high school. 

To increase student achievement and fluency in mathematics, Earlham teachers expanded student discourse through the use of EM4 games and EngageNY fluency materials. 

Throughout the 2016-2017 school year, staff focused on refining their curricular materials to include work with the depth of knowledge levels. Each content standard, at every grade level K-6, was examined and revised as necessary to be sure the complexity of thinking required by the Iowa Core was addressed. Focusing on MAP and Iowa Assessment data, each grade is working to meet the needs of every student. 

Classroom teachers aren’t the only ones increasing their knowledge; paraeducators are also learning more about the mathematical thinking required by the Core. Paras received initial training on subitizing, composing/decomposing numbers and conceptual understanding. 

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