BEDFORD, N.Y. — Among the many changes on the horizon for the Bedford Central School District this year is a brand new math curriculum for elementary schools.
Math Trailblazers, which the district had used since 2003, is out, and Math in Focus is in. As the U.S. edition of Singapore’s top-ranking math program, Math in Focus offers a visual and balanced approach to learning math with an emphasis on problem-solving using model-drawing.
Drew Patrick, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the district made the switch in part to accommodate the adoption of the New York State Common Core Curriculum learning standards in math and English. The Common Core is used by state education systems to define content expectations by grade level.
Patrick said accompanying the implementation of the Common Core with the introduction of this new curriculum is actually ideal for students and teachers.
“We have a new math program, but everybody in the state has new standards,” Patrick said, “so we’re going to be doing some adjusting no matter what, just like everybody else is.”
The Singapore model was chosen in March in part based on findings from the district’s 2010 evaluation of the K-5 curriculum. Numerous math programs were field-tested last year by a committee of teachers culled from all five elementary schools, and input from teachers, leaders and parents was gathered to make the final decision.
The Singapore program was chosen because, like the Common Core, it centers on building the skills of problem-solving as one of the key mathematical practices.
Donna Swift, the district's elementary math consulting teacher, said she expects the children of Pound Ridge, Bedford Village, Bedford Hills, Mount Kisco and West Patent elementary schools to adjust well to Math in Focus.
“The content is presented very clearly with child-friendly graphics and explanations,” Swift said, and it also has technological and Web-based elements.
Teachers will be able to use one of the 28 Smart Boards installed districtwide this summer to project pages from students’ math books. Smart Boards also record and save work from group lessons, making it easier to review, Swift said.
Much work has been done this summer to train teachers in this curriculum, Patrick said, and the training will continue throughout the school year.
“It will take a couple of years to fill in all the little gaps that exist when you make such a transition,” Patrick said, “but we have a plan to do that.”
Anyone who is interested in learning more can check out the district’s website for dates of upcoming parent information sessions.