WCASD Elementary Mathematics Instruction
Parents and other family members can influence their students' math skills. One of the major concerns of a parent is how you can help your children improve mathematics learning. First, please realize that the mathematics instruction your children may receive might be very different from the instruction you received in your own school experiences. Today, mathematics instruction is richer in problem solving, reasoning, and making connections with the real world.
As our children progress through mathematics it is essential that they develop an ability to visualize spatial relationships (geometry, measurement, patterns), to approximate (estimation and number sense), to interpret data (probability and statistics), to reason mathematically (logical thinking and reasoning), and to know why it is important to study and know mathematics.
The West Chester Area School District (WCASD) is committed to providing its students with the mathematics experiences listed in the preceding paragraph by using a Balanced Math Approach. There are five components of a Balanced Math Program:
Computational Skills (Math Review and Mental Math) Math Review emphasizes the development of number sense as students practice procedural mathematics and computational skills every day. Mental Math helps students become skillful in computing math problems mentally.
Problem Solving This step provides both a structure for problem-solving activities related to the current conceptual unit focus and an opportunity to communicate their mathematical thinking.
Conceptual Understanding Conceptual Understanding begins by identifying, in district and state math standards, a particular grade-level topic that is essential for student understanding. That topic becomes the focus of a conceptual math unit that is deliberately designed to align instruction with an end-of-unit assessment.
Mastery of Math Facts The emphasis in this step is on fact recall through student understanding of patterns. A program of accountability enables students to learn all their basic math facts by the end of elementary school.
Common Formative Assessment The final step aligns school-based assessment for learning to Math Power Standards. Common formative assessments provide teachers with valid feedback as to students' current understanding of the Power Standards in focus. Examples of WCASD Common Formative Assessment include, but are not limited to: Study Island Benchmark Assessments, Investigations Performance Assessments, and Math Fact Fluency Benchmark Assessments.
Using the Pennsylvania Mathematics Standards as a guide, our teachers strive to incorporate computation, math fact fluency, problem-solving, conceptual understanding, and assessment into their instruction.They use a variety of resources including Investigations, a textbook, hands-on activities/projects, and problem-solving practice. Assessments are given throughout the school year to guide instruction and monitor student progress.