Welcome to my webpage! I have been an educator for 29 years and have taught at several grade levels including grade two, three, four and five. I have been in this leadership position since 2005. I love the challenge, the children, and the curriculum. Please explore the site to receive an Overview of our Math Program in Yarmouth as well as a Presentation of our Response to Intervention Program (also called our Child Study Team). You will also find an archive of newsletters, some of which describe the algorithms that we teach here in Yarmouth. Enjoy your exploration and give me a call if you have questions!
Note: Below, you will find a K-5 Math Overview as well as information about our weekly, optional Discovery Math.
K-4 Math Overview
Prepared by Rachel Clark, K-4 Math Lead Teacher
We look forward to a productive, engaging year of math with your child. The following information may give you some clarity regarding math instruction at the elementary level.
Both Rowe and Yarmouth Elementary School students will use similar materials (i.e., resources, manipulatives, and journals) in all classrooms. These common classroom experiences allow for deeper conversations among teachers around best classroom practices as units are planned and implemented. Teachers have a common language to use when discussing math instruction, assessment, enrichment, and reteaching.
Many routines such as Explorations, Name-Collection Boxes, Frames and Arrows, and What’s My Rule? are similar from classroom to classroom. Number line activities and work with the 100’s grid are commonplace in all classrooms, thereby giving students a strong foundation in number sense and place value.
Our primary resource materials, entitled Everyday Math, are designed to encourage children to think mathematically and to develop confidence and familiarity with math concepts by using numbers and activities that have meaning in children’s lives. Children learn about inches and centimeters by measuring their own hands, for example.
We incorporate a philosophy that provides students with frequent exposure to skills and concepts before mastery is expected. This is similar to literacy instruction in that students are given opportunities for practice and exploration and are invited to marinate in the new vocabulary.
At all grade levels, students play a variety of math games that give them plenty of practice using numbers. These motivating games are coupled with instruction where students gain strategies for acquiring automaticity of basic facts, the understanding of place value, and the relationship of operations. The ultimate goal is basic fact fluency, and we discuss many strategies that help students arrive at mastery with facts. Additionally, children develop a variety of computational methods and the flexibility to choose the procedure that is most appropriate in a given situation. Building a deep understanding of number sense and place value is the cornerstone of instruction regarding computation algorithms.
Problem solving and critical reasoning are key components of Everyday Math at all grade levels. Students will make important decisions about how to solve problems, rather than just following steps to find an answer. They learn to choose from a variety of strategies and carry out their strategies to solve problems. The focus revolves around communicating solutions in a clear and coherent manner.
You will notice a hum in math classes at the K-4 level as students are given frequent opportunities to reflect on strategies used, patterns that are noticed, and observations that are made.
Each grade level has specific learning goals that are essential and linked to the Common Core Standards. The year features instruction and assessment centered around these essential goals. We will update you on your child’s progress toward these goals in a variety of ways throughout the year. As parents, you are apt to hear much about the Common Core in the coming years so here is a quick reference on how all this relates to math instruction. For parents, it is important to know that the Common Core Standards provide a shift in three areas: focus, coherence, and rigor.
We implement a focus on teaching the most essential standards at each grade level so that instruction is deeper, not wider. You will note thoughtful coherence of major topics across and within grade levels. And finally, the Common Core offers added rigor which involves pursuing conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency, and application with equal intensity.
You, as parents, will have many opportunities at home to nurture and observe your child’s love of math through a variety of approaches. Games, homelinks, fact triangle practice, Discovery Math (optional), and what Everyday Math calls ”do-anytime-activities” will be your resources as you support your children. Many activities are based on real life situations such as measuring, estimating and counting while cooking, walking or driving. Additionally, there are online resources on our school website (https://sites.google.com/a/yarmouthschools.org/yes/edresources) that we invite you to explore with your children. Please refer to my teacher page (https://sites.google.com/a/yarmouthschools.org/rachel-clark/) and family blog (http://rclarkmath.blogspot.com) for added information and tutorials. Your involvement is an integral part of math acquisition as it helps students to see the relevance of math in everyday lives. Through this school/home partnership, the sky is the limit for your children.
I hope you have found this summary helpful and invite you to call me, Rachel Clark, at Rowe or YES, or your child’s classroom teacher with specific questions regarding math instruction at the K-4 level.
Most importantly, we look forward to engaging your children in the active learning of mathematics this year.
We welcome you and your child to Discovery Math. These activities are designed for students from kindergarten through grade four. They are available to students on a weekly basis and are purely optional. Discovery Math is intended to enhance your child's journey through mathematics. As you know, having students read at home is extremely beneficial, and the results are evident in student performance. The same is true when children have the opportunity to “mathematize” at home. This is an invitation to expose your child to extra math each week. If your child expresses an interest in more challenging problem solving, is an independent learner, and is able to complete his/her math assignment in a relatively short time, perhaps Discovery Math is a good fit.
Since its creation, the Discovery Math program has far exceeded our expectations! We currently have roughly a 60% participation rate from about 500 students in grades K-4. We consistently receive positive feedback from you about the opportunity to enjoy math at home as a family as well as growth you see in your child's confidence and motivation around math. At school, we continue to see a connection between participation in Discovery Math and math achievement.
We believe your child’s readiness for this type of activity will become apparent to you as the weeks unfold. We encourage you to allow your child to take part if you feel he/she needs this type of additional challenge. For some children, our rigorous math curriculum is already challenging, engaging, and appropriate.
Here is how Discovery Math works:
•Once a week, your child will have access to an activity that he or she may work on during the week. Teachers will have these activities available in their classrooms. We will vary these activities somewhat to keep the content fresh from week to week.
•If your child’s week is busy, please note that the activities are independent of one another and your child may take several weeks off before returning to Discovery Math. Again, they are optional throughout the year.
• Children who choose to work on Discovery Math problems may elect to work on them at home. At times, your child’s teacher may decide to have your child work on these activities in class. Your role in Discovery Math is to encourage and facilitate your child's problem solving. During the week, allow time for him or her to think about each problem. You may need to read the problem to your child, explaining any new words encountered. Feel free to suggest a strategy for solving the problem, offer “counters” or manipulatives, or listen as your child shares her or his thinking. Your child does not have to complete all the problems in order to turn in the activity sheet to the teacher.
•It is normal for a child to NOT be able to complete every problem on an activity sheet. The process of reading, understanding, and approaching the problems is a valuable step in the solving of many types of problems. Remind your child that she or he is not expected to know the answer to every problem.
• On Friday, your child’s teacher will collect the activity sheets from students who elected to participate to any degree. At Rowe, participating students will be able to select their own feedback sticker to put on their Discovery Math sheet and will then take it home. Teachers feel this will be very motivational for the students. At YES, feedback stickers will be applied to Discovery Math sheets and returned to students accompanied by an answer sheet for your review. When our schedules allow, we will continue to write specific comments on Discovery Math sheets to stay involved and see how the kids are thinking.
• The process will repeat itself every week, and your child may opt to cycle in and out of the process depending on need, interest, and time constraints.
Questions regarding Discovery Math should be directed to Rachel Clark at Rowe School (846-3771) or YES (846-3391). Feel free to use email if this would be more convenient: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for considering this opportunity for your child to embark on this mathematical adventure.