CUSD Feature Department: The Secondary Math Department

Posted by: District 1 year, 5 months ago

CUSD Feature Department: The Secondary Math Department

We are beyond proud of our dedicated and innovative secondary math educators.

Each subject comes with different challenges. In this current education environment, math is one of the most scrutinized subject matters. Through the implementation of Common Core, the approach to math is evolving the most. We are altering the ideology of how we apply math as well as the way we teach our students.

Traditionally, math focused on procedure. You identified one way to reach a solution, and that’s what students were taught. Today, we are expanding learning and focusing on conceptualizing. Now teachers work with students to discover multiple approaches to solving any given problem.

It’s very exciting to see the changes in the way we engage students in math. These changes will develop the characteristics companies are looking for in their workforce. 

Most likely this isn’t news. Common Core standards in the schools are almost old news today. What isn’t common knowledge is that until recently there hasn’t been curriculum to match the new standards in the classroom.

Can you imagine teaching math without a textbook? It’s not an easy topic to begin with. Then you add new standards, remove curriculum, alter the way the subject matter is taught, and require multiple solutions to every problem.

Let’s just say we have been asking a lot of our math teachers.

Which is why we are so lucky to have our committed educators. . Throughout the entire district, our math teachers are ensuring that students don’t miss a beat in the classroom as we adapt to the new standards. Since the early days of Common Core, our teachers have collaboratively pulled together to create and execute a curriculum. The way that all teachers of math have stepped up to meet the rigors of the new requirements in the absence of adequate materials speaks to their incredible caliber and dedication to student learning.

Writing curriculum may not seem like an extraordinary feat. We would like to put that into perspective.

Larger school districts hire educators solely focused on creating curriculum for new academic standards. Without the resources to bring in external staff, our math teachers across every vertical meet to define what the new standards mean for Coronado students and determine best practices to achieve the new outcomes around learning. They then break out into grade level and department teams to develop curriculum to bring to the classroom that aligns to other courses and grade levels. This is an extensive and exhausting process. Many times, it’s done on their own time as well. For example, last summer an elementary math team coordinated the curriculum for kindergarten – grade 5 using several excellent curricular resources, both in print and online, including resources and training on essential elements of exemplary mathematics instruction. Similarly, all secondary math teachers have worked over the last few years to reorganize and rewrite their courses as well using a variety of resources.

Bottom line, our students greatly benefit from their dedication.

Luckily, mathematics curricula are starting to catch up to the new requirements. Now, several years after new standards have been implemented, our secondary math team has discovered a fantastic curriculum to use moving forward. Through their efforts, we are confident that our students are ready for the new and challenging courses.

With this new curriculum, math in the Coronado Unified School District is seeing one big evolution. Traditionally, high school math broke the subject matter into specific courses. You took Algebra followed by Geometry and then you  moved into Algebra II. Following that sequence, many students then moved onto higher level mathematics such as calculus.

Historically, the failure rate for students in Algebra is incredibly high across the nation.

Additionally, this past course sequence pigeon-holed students in specific areas of math. Oftentimes, students excel in either geometry or algebra but struggle with the other. This intensive focus limits their abilities to succeed. In grades 6-8, math is a combination of all topics in math: statistics, algebra, geometry, and precalculus. This gives students the opportunity to view math as it is in real life, as an integrated subject, and work in areas of challenge and strength.

As a district, we are now changing our high school math classes to match this spiraling style we’ve always had in middle school. In the high school, we will now have Integrated Math I, II, and III before students can move into higher mathematics courses. Integrated courses will build on previous learning in all areas of math, creating a more comprehensive understanding of the subject.

It is an exciting time for secondary math in our district! We couldn’t have met the challenges of adopting new standards or progress into our new comprehensive, integrated courses without the dedication of our entire math department.

This new course style will continue to demand a lot of our teachers. Traditionally, secondary teachers taught a single subject within math, such as geometry. Now they will be integrating all the areas of math into their class.

We are confident that our excellent math team will rise to meet this new challenge with the same level of dedication to excellence they have always exhibited. Ultimately, we are so honored to work with such an incredible team.

Coronado Middle School Math Department:        

Melissa Miller
Bonnie Carpenter
Brian Schumeyer
Elizabeth Wertz
Sue Howe
Amanda Grimes 

Coronado High School Math Department:        

Sandy Davis
Nancy McGreevy
Katie Leverich
Bill Lemei
Dianne Chrisman
Michelle Walker
Betsy Castillo
Sean Castillo
Leanna McCollum
Dante Thomas