Bradley County Schools is launching a Math Initiative for grades K-5. This concentrated initiative will involve not only the schools - teachers, students and instructional coaches - but parents as well. Parents are being strongly encouraged to assist in helping their children learn math facts. In order for parents to successfully assist in this math initiative, parents will be provided with a number of resources.
During the past several years, the system has focused on reading and language arts with much success. The emphasis on reading will continue; however, the system's current initiative will also include a laser-like target on math skills. A review of the data over the last several years shows that students continue to demonstrate top-level scores in reading because of the strong emphasis in reading system-wide. Therefore, as a result of the new math initiative, it is expected that math scores will also rise similar to the results achieved from the reading emphasis. Research has shown that daily practice, including time on task, produces positive results.
Included in the new math initiative will be a county-wide Math Blitz at each elementary school on November 30. At that time parents will be introduced to Math Facts in a Flash and will be enlisted to help teach math facts. In addition to using the flash cards at home, parents will be provided with specific ways and ideas to help their child at home. Research indicates that students who know their basic math facts are able to perform math tasks at a greater rate of proficiency and speed.
Terri Murray, Special Projects Director stated, "Practicing math facts can take place at the breakfast table in the morning or even while walking through the grocery store in the evening. The idea is for parents to spend a few minutes each day with their child until he or she masters these facts."
In addition to the parental involvement, the math initiative provides one hour of uninterrupted math instruction each day. Students will be provided with a Word Problem of the Day which will require higher-order thinking and critical thinking skills. This exercise will better prepare students for the new type of tests being given as a result of the Tennessee Diploma Project initiated last year by the Tennessee Department of Education. Math will also be taught "across the curriculum," meaning that math will be incorporated into the instruction of science, social studies, reading and other subjects. Technology, including the use of calculators, will be effectively incorporated into instruction. Sheena Newman, Supervisor of Elementary Instruction, commented, "Our students need to see their teachers using math widely in many different contexts to effectively demonstrate the relevance of math in real world applications."
A final element of the math initiative is to better train teachers to teach math. Effective math strategies along with instructional resources are being provided for all grade levels. Technology coaches are also providing links to websites to assist parents and teachers in facilitating the teaching of math standards. The Tech Corner on the Bradley County Schools website will provide a component for students to facilitate the practice of math facts and skills. "As we better equip our elementary teachers, their excitement for math will in turn excite and build motivation in the students. Research indicates this is an important factor in improving student test scores," Ms. Newman stated.
"We are encouraging all students and parents to get onboard with this initiative," added Johnny McDaniel, Director of Bradley County Schools. "It is our desire for our students to have a 21st century education and be able to compete in the global job market. We want all students to be career and college ready, and we must begin at the elementary level."