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Math Parent Night Exit Card Excitements and Wonderings & Answers

posted Sep 18, 2015, 7:02 PM by David Lostetter   [ updated Sep 18, 2015, 7:05 PM ]
Dear Woodland Families of Intermediate Grade Students,

Thank you for your support in a great start to a new school year. We appreciate the strong attendance at the optional Math Parent Night last week (https://goo.gl/F0C4JV). We are sharing responses to questions that were included in the Exit Cards. We look forward to partnering with you and your student(s) for another year of learning and growth for each student at Woodland Elementary.

Increasing rigor is an important part of our district mission. We believe that all students need to be stretched academically and expected to do more than they may think possible. We are refining this “stretch culture” at Woodland as we implement instructional strategies (ex. guided math and workshop models in reading and writing) that meet the needs of all learners. We will do this by teaching critical thinking skills and utilizing more open-ended activities designed to challenge and engage students, while expanding our use of instructional technology. We are excited these changes will result in another outstanding year of increasing rigor and achievement for all students at Woodland.


-Lisa Carlson, Principal
-District Teaching and Learning Department Staff

Math Parent Night Exit Card Excitements and Wonderings & Answers

What are you EXCITED about?        

        -        I always enjoy seeing when my children “get it” – not the right answer, but the right way to             get there

        -        I am excited about this new math initiative

        -        Exploring youcube.org and that everyone can learn math to the highest levels

        -        Creative approach and concept of learning from mistakes

        -        Continuing the enthusiasm for math concepts, problems and ideas

        -        To learn about math teaching techniques

        -        That the kids are learning in a way that will make them think more critically and creatively

        -        Seeing my child progress in this new journey and view on math; love the positive message         and lesson that it is good to make mistakes, we learn from them

        -        That the process is really about being positive – redirecting and taking time in the process         to learn and grow

        -        Keep kids in high spirits on learning math

        -        I’m excited to see positive changes in math education and attitudes at the elementary level

        -        Excited about my kid learning more about math with more resources available

        -        The fact that educators have this great emphasis on the actual instruction of math

        -        Math being more social = more appealing to my social child; math being more visually                 engaging

        -        I LOVE that students will be told that mistakes are ok and actually a time of growth

        -        Finding new ways to keep the kids engaged and excited about learning

        -        Encouraging questions, mistakes, and supporting “no peak” and brain plasticity

        -        The growth mindset – thank you so much for having this meeting today; it gives me new             insight

        -        I’ll be able to support my kids in their math journey since that math we learned before is so         different from how they teach it today

        -        Really happy to see a different approach that is all inclusive

Is this approach different from the past math instruction?

A main difference is Guided Math allows for a menu of instructional strategies:

        Math warm-ups – These include number talks or number corner utilizing a calendar to allow for students to practice mental math strategies, review skills to be maintained, and preview skills to come.

        Whole-class instruction – This includes mini-lessons, teacher modeling or think-alouds, reviewing the materials for math workshop, and taking assessments are examples of activities students might engage in as a whole class.

        Small-group instruction – This happens when students are instructed with like ability peers, in small groups.  The small group composition changes based on students’ needs. Struggling students have intensive and targeted instruction.  Other students, who have mastered the concept, are provided with enriching and challenging opportunities to stretch, grow, and develop their particular strengths and passions.

        Math workshop – In Math workshop students are provided independent work to complete individually, in pairs, or in with like-ability peers.  The tasks may be follow-up activities from a whole-group or small-group instruction time with the teacher, ongoing practice of previously mastered skills, problem-solving investigations, math games, math journals, or interdisciplinary work.  

          Individual conferences – To enhance learning, the teacher confers individually with students, informally assessing their understanding and providing opportunities for one-on-one mathematical communication.

          Assessment – A variety of assessment strategies are frequently utilized for assessment of learning to inform instruction and assessment of learning.

Will there be more communication

to parents?

Yes, more information will be coming throughout the school year.  Periodic information will be sent home on resources for tips and strategies parents can use to support math learning and assignments.  There will be opportunities to learn more at additional school events (ex. fall parent-teacher conferences).  In addition, we will administer an electronic parent survey this fall.  An online survey will enable us to reach more parents and the results of the survey will allow us to be responsive to questions, comments, and concerns.

What happens at the secondary level?

Opportunities for continuous rigor and challenge are available in our secondary schools.  With the use of common assessments, students have access to continued acceleration through a variety of math courses including Honors and Advanced Placement (AP), as well as engaging learning enrichments outside the school day (ex. Math Olympiad and Math Team).

How will this process help special needs children who are in one grade and yet grades behind in math?

Small-group instruction, math workshop time, and individual conferences will allow teachers to work with the individual needs of all learners.  Students will be able to have targeted instruction and work assignments based on their needs while participating in the rich math warm-ups and whole-class sharing emphasizing open-ended problems with multiple solutions. 

Do you have tips for helping at home?

Online tools are available through the Woodland website.  The links include access to the Bridge’s Math website, Dreambox and Math Games.  District 196 Community Education also offers GRASP – a math support program with lessons constructed to reinforce or reteach typical skills at a particular grade level.

Is this a change in the actual curriculum or just a different way of approaching math?

Our district curriculum is the Minnesota State Standards.  We have a number of resources teachers use to help students meet the learning benchmarks and targets.  These include Bridges, M3 resources, Fermi math, and others.  The focus is on knowing the math, knowing the students, and knowing how to respond.   Careful and regular evaluation provides information for teachers to use to make instructional decisions to extend learning or provide modification to best meet the needs of each learner.  The state standards and district resources allow for flexible grouping and flexible pacing around activities that promote high-level thinking and good mathematical discourse.

Are all elementary schools in the district moving

to this?

Yes!  As we follow a continuous improvement model, the district supports the implementation of best research-based practices, structures and processes that allow for increased rigor and enhanced problem-solving skills.  Over several years, teachers in our schools K-8, will be receiving professional development on math mindset, guided math, and personalized learning for diverse learners. Schools are also currently being equipped will additional resources for intervention, enrichment, and extension activities.


David Lostetter,
Sep 18, 2015, 7:05 PM