Teachers tout Eureka Math program | NevadaAppeal.com

Teachers tout Eureka Math program

Steve Ranson
LES teacher Brad Whitaker goes over a concept from the Eureka Math program to one of his students, Samuel Maldonado.

The Churchill County School Board heard reports from several teachers during its Thursday night meeting about the progress being made with the Eureka Math program.

Dr. Sandra Sheldon, CCSD superintendent, said the program was originally based in Singapore and further developed in New York State.

“It was reviewed with other programs and found to be significantly better,” Sheldon said after the presentations. “It started with algebraic concepts at kindergarten and involves problem-solving and critical thinking.

She said teachers piloted the program last year and brought it to all teachers this year. She said every teacher from kindergarten through eighth grade is teaching the program. Humboldt, Douglas and Lyon counties area also using the Eureka Math program, and Sheldon said the districts will give an update to the Nevada Department of Education later in the year.

“During the last few years, math scores haven’t been goo, so we decided to go across the board with this program,” Sheldon said. “We used it at each grade level in pockets last year.”

With the school configured by one or two grade levels, she said this gives teachers the ability to work with their peers. Additionally, two academic coaches are working with the program and go into the schools to work with the teachers.

Brad Whitaker, a teacher at Lahontan Elementary School, said the new program is bringing changes to the math curriculum, but it aligns with the new state standards.

“It’s a different way of teaching than what we are used to,” he said.

While this year has been one of preparation, he said the next school year would require less planning. During the year, he said math teachers revisit topics and keep building. Whitaker said the program comes with many activities and is very adaptable.

Lahontan first-grade teacher Lisa Mills said she began using the program one year ago, and she re-emphasized the instruction correlates to the math standards. She said the program stresses problem solving and not just memorization.

“I am asking my students to think critically and outside the box,” she said.

Mills said she likes the program because it gives her multiple strategies in teaching math.

Teacher Linda Rasmussen, a second-grade teacher at E.C. Best Elementary School, said she has had to make adjustments to the program; however, she also said parents are beginning to accept the program because their children are learning math.

The Eureka Math program allows parents to go online and see each module and lesson.

Trustees heard from Nathan Waite, a Spanish teacher at Churchill County High School, who discussed the advancements in technology.

“My kids are interested in using technology to learn,” he stressed, adding the level of interest among students keeps increasing.

Waite told the school board students are taking initiative in their own learning. He said they like the different technology — Smartphones, computer, etc. — all lined into his class.

“It’s a treasure chest for kids,” he added.

Furthermore, he said the information on the Internet never becomes outdated.

“This is all about performance and meeting standards with their level of performances,” said trustee Ron Evans.

Waite uses the Chrome books that allow the students to learn how to use today’s technology. The instruction aids the students with their lesson plans, but it also allows teachers to collaborate together and gives access to parents so they’re able to monitor their student’s work.

Trustee Carmen Schank asked Waite if the novelty with the Chromebook would wear off.

“Absolutely no,” Waite responded.

Trustees also listened to a short presentation from John Bates, representative from PoolPact about anti-bullying and harassment training for school-district staff.

Superintendent Dr. Sandra Sheldon said the chrome books are great tools for teachers, students and parents to use. She said teachers are able to set up their classroom on the tablets; gives the students personalized learning and allows them to collaborate with other students.

The Chromebook is a new, faster computer. It starts in seconds, and offers thousands of apps. It has built-in virus protection, and backs up information in the Cloud storage site.