Every September, at the beginning of each school year, my friends post hilarious videos of teachers and other educators to my Facebook page knowing that I work part time in an educational setting. Perhaps my favorite is comedian Louis CK questioning the intelligence of teachers—actually choosing this profession:
“Umm, Hi what is this job?”
“Ok. Here’s what we need you to do. We need you to make children know math.”
“Wow. Do they want to know math?”
“No, they don’t want to know it. We need to make them know it against their will…”
“Who are these children?”
“Just whatever kids live near the building.”
Part of the hilarity of this bit is that in fact, learning math is hard for students. Nevertheless teachers DO make children “know math” and especially in Shorewood, have been doing a really great job. According to the most recent State report card, Shorewood elementary students’ math achievement scores are particularly high (91.5) compared to state data (66.1). Hooray! Right? We should celebrate this accomplishment, but wouldn’t it be great if it wasn’t so hard for the students? Could we in fact allow students to be willing participants in their learning?
To achieve this goal and to further improve student learning, the Shorewood School District chose and SEED donors funded the new Eureka Math² curriculum for all elementary students based on strong results from a pilot program. Here is what teachers who taught the pilot program had to say in their evaluations:
- It has a clear lesson structure and progression of lessons
- Rich vocabulary/math talk
- The workbooks and manipulatives included with the program reinforced learning goals
- There is opportunity to revisit key concepts
- It has formal assessments to progress and monitor student growth
A vital learning tool with this program are manipulatives, which were purchased by each elementary PTO. We give a huge thanks to both PTOs and to all the families who donated, delivered manipulatives, and worked quickly to make this happen. The manipulatives allow for hands on concepts of abstract ideas. Teachers use them during their lessons providing multiple entry points to student understanding of new ideas. Additionally, it is a tool for the students to explain to others their own understanding of concepts. Not only can teachers assess a student’s knowledge, children become the “teacher” as they show their classmates their thinking. In fact, one big advantage of the program is that students learn with one another. They have an opportunity to contribute to a whole class discussion, explain how they solved a problem to a partner, or apply the math to a real life situation. As Mike Joynt, Director of Teaching and Learning noted: “being able to talk about math and communicate with words, pictures, and models makes the curriculum engaging for students.”
Left: Teachers take part in a training on the new Eureka Math curriculum over the summer of 2023. Right: A large pile of math manipulatives compiled by Atwater PTO president, Amanda Root, ready to leave “HQ” and be delivered to Atwater.
As we know, a child will learn more when they enjoy the process, and early math data reflects this point. Shorewood looked at data measured by the Fastbridge Screener, which all students in grade K-8 take in the Fall, Winter and Spring, and noticed greater levels of achievement for students that were in the classrooms teaching the Eureka Math² curriculum. So asking SEED to fund this new curriculum was really a no brainer. The program was up and running on day one of the 2023-24 school year following a two day training with a Eureka Math² trainer. Additionally teachers are utilizing early release Wednesdays to provide time to collaborate around lesson planning while implementing this program. Parents can expect to see data at the end of the year in the “R-2 Academic Growth-Literacy and Numeracy” report. In the meantime, please join Shorewood educators November 16 from 6-6:30 in the Lake Bluff School Cafeteria to learn more about the K-5 Math Curriculum.
The teachers, district, and SEED are so grateful for the support of parents and community members that made this purchase, and so many others, possible. Your generosity not only funds new initiatives and tools, but plays a role in the success of our students. Hopefully you have received the SEED annual fund brochure in the mail. In it you can see all the incredible things that donors funded through classroom grants, wishlist items, and direct giving to the SSD through SEED last year. You can also see that information here. There are many more areas of need that the district hopes to fund through SEED donations in the coming year. If you have not already donated to this year’s annual fund, please consider making a charitable donation today.