July 5, 2015
The Partnership Schools took the national stage when they became one of only two districts selected for Student Achievement Partners’ first ever Materials Adaptation Pilot Project. This program was designed to address curricular gaps and alignment with our newly adopted math curriculum, Math in Focus.
Student Achievement Partners (SAP) was founded by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba, lead writers of the Common Core State Standards. Their work, as they describe it, “is aimed at ensuring that teachers across the country can put the standards to work quickly and effectively, to help their students and colleagues aspire to and reach a higher standard.” As a non-profit organization with the sole purpose “to help all students and teachers see their hard work lead to greater student achievement,” SAP easily identified the Partnership Schools as an ideal recipient for materials, professional development workshops, and targeted resources as they shift to teaching to the Common Core.
After planning closely with Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer, Kathleen Porter-Magee, and Director of Math Achievement, Lauren DelFavero, several experts in the field both from SAP and partner organization, Illustrative Mathematics, got to work leading the six-school, third grade team in targeted professional development on teaching fractions.
Illustrative Mathematics is a nationally famed organization that has been building Common Core resources and professional development for districts and schools all across the country. Our project with SAP and Illustrative Mathematics includes two primary objectives: firstly, teachers will be able to explain progression of fractions skills from third until fifth grade; secondly, they will be able to analyze current curricular materials and adapt them to meet the needs of the Common Core.
Taking the challenge head on, the third grade team was committed, diligent, and focused in their work toward these objectives. Extremely impressed by their engagement and eagerness, Ellen Whitesides, session leader and Vice President of Business Development for Illustrative Mathematics, noted that their impeccable participation left a memorable mark.
Our teachers were so grateful for the opportunity to work with such high level professionals. Elizabeth Perez, a third grade teacher from St. Athanasius school, noted that, “the facilitators from SAP did not just make a presentation to us; they worked at the tables with us and were genuinely interested in how we brainstormed ideas and made connections.” Perez also acknowledged that this unique opportunity allowed her to work and share ideas with her fellow third grade teachers across all of the Partnership schools and build a stronger bond as a cohort. By the end of the project, teachers developed and adapted a fractions lesson to fit the Common Core, which they later tested in their respective classrooms.
Barb Dumesi, a third grade teacher at Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School said after the project ended, “I was happy to bring back the different ideas and practices to my classroom. My students enjoyed the fraction games and I plan to use them again next year.”
As a result of this project, the Partnership Schools and SAP are coordinating additional professional development with Cathery Yeh, from the UC Irvine School of Education. Cathery Yeh is a highly respected teacher coach who has been developing teacher training sessions and contributing to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) journal Teaching Children’s Mathematics. Our team is thrilled to have the opportunity to receive additional math education training from Cathery.