District Implements New Math Curriculum: Empowering RCSD Learners to be Problem-Solvers
Students gather around a table, excitedly strategizing about how to create a diagram representing a meal shared among friends.
“We can draw a box and split it into squares, then shade what was eaten,” says one. “We could create a circle and divide it with slices,” says another.
Through their collaboration, the student team develops a model to explain a math story from their workbooks. Their teacher gathers ideas from the students and the class discusses their mathematical thinking and their various approaches to the problem.
With a focus on student-centered learning, Redwood City School District (RCSD) K-5 classrooms have adopted the Illustrative Math curriculum which fosters hands-on, high engagement lessons each day. The careful selection process for the curriculum took two years, including committee work and piloting, with the committee coming to the consensus that the curriculum was the best choice for the District.
The Illustrative Math curriculum goes hand in hand with RCSD’s Learner Framework, ensuring students are prepared to be Empowered Learners, Knowledge Constructors, Effective Collaborators, and Creative Communicators.
“Teachers guide students in understanding the problem they are being asked to solve, ask questions to advance students’ thinking in productive ways, provide structure for students to share their work, orchestrate discussions so students have the opportunity to understand and take a position on the ideas of others, and synthesize the learning with the whole class at the end of activities and lessons,” said Anna Herrera, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services.
This model serves to open up dialogue about math for students so they move their thinking forward. The goal is that students gain a deeper understanding of the “why” in math as lessons focus on understanding the working parts and representation of a mathematical equation–not just a memorization of steps.
“As we continue through the years, we would expect our students to be able to think mathematically and to be able to explain their thinking using modeling skills in the early grades that are flexible about how they solve problems,” Herrera said. “This will lead to students having a conceptual understanding when they are in middle school and beyond.”