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Lifelong Learning

ISD#152 Instruction & Curriculum Advisory Committee

February 9 ICAC Meeting

When: February 9, 2017

Where: Probstfield Center for Education Board Room


  1. Introductions
  2. Minutes from January 19, 2017
  3. Update on Secondary Math Adoption 
  4. Extended Day Learning 
  5. Update on First Year of Elementary Math Adoption 
  6. Other 


Instruction and Curriculum Advisory Committee
Feb. 9, 2017, Meeting Minutes
Members Present: Karen Jacowitz, Chizuko Shastri, Cassidy Bjorklund, Dana Haagenson, Josh Haag, Mary Flesberg, Sadie Anderson, Leigh Dornfeld, John Wirries, Missy Eidsness, Julie Wellnitz, Teresa Shume, Rachel Hohn, Carol Ladwig, Bill Tomhave and Pam Gibb.
Guests: Jim Duncan, Moorhead High math teacher, Craig Fahrendorf, Horizon Middle School math teacher, Deb Pender, director of alternative education, Sarah Martin, Ellen Hopkins Elementary School resource strategist and Excel coordinator, and Vicki Breneman and Andrea Manston, instructional math coaches.
1. Approval of Jan. 19, 2017, Minutes
Carol Ladwig moved, Karen Jacowitz seconded, to approve the minutes. Motion carried.
2. Update on Secondary Mathematics Adoption
Jim Duncan, Moorhead High math teacher, and Craig Fahrendorf, Horizon Middle School math teacher, provided updates on the resource adoption for secondary mathematics. Missy Eidsness, assistant superintendent of learning and accountability, explained that the state standards are not changing, but in the nine years since the last adoption resources have changed with the need for digital resources. Last year the order for a couple of courses changed as AP Calculus was moved to the junior year with AP Statistics in the senior year.
At Moorhead High, Duncan said the teachers are preparing for new materials for next year. They are surveying students and parents and making site visits to Chaska and Bloomington Jefferson, which have somewhat similar populations but slightly higher Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments scores. They have reviewed some curriculum materials already and have found options that include more application problems, not just solving equations, and electronic versions. Eidsness said the district has a nine-year adoption cycle, but that textbook companies have a six-year license so she has had to work with that. There was discussion about whether it makes sense to move to a 1-to-1 technology environment at Moorhead High, that a graphing calculator is required for mathematics and they work with students to purchase those. Students need to be familiar with the calculator so they know how to use it. There was discussion of implementing a lease-to-own option for the calculators, and that teachers would like to have classroom sets of calculators available.
Fahrendorf said the Horizon math department is looking at the transition from the elementary Bridges math to grades 6-8 math and then transitioning to high school math. With the literacy goals at Horizon they are hoping to find curriculum that includes text for students to read in each chapter. The Minnesota mathematics standards are not the Common Core standards, but textbooks are written to meet the Common Core. One option being considered is the Minnesota Partnership for Collaborative Curriculum being developed by Minnesota school districts. Eidsness said they need to evaluate the quality, and pricing would include hiring teachers to review the grade-level units. If the district develops the curriculum then there wouldn’t be licensing fees, but print copies would still be made. There are students/classes that want the book.
There was discussion of the additional sheltered math for English learners taught by both the math and EL teachers, that some resources may need to be in multiple languages since students with interrupted education may not have basic math skills, the importance of vocabulary for mathematics, and that the departments have been taking time to reflect on how to make programming better for students.
3. Extended-Day Learning
Deb Pender, director of alternative education, and Sarah Martin, Ellen Hopkins Elementary School resource strategist and Excel coordinator, shared information about extended-day learning, which is another program under the alternative education umbrella. The K-8 targeted services program is called EXCEL in Moorhead and served 771 students last year. That includes after-school and summer programming and Saturday school just at Horizon. Red River Area Learning Center is focused on dropout prevention so the targeted services programs support students at risk of not making grade-level progression. About 18 percent of the district’s students are served. Students receiving Learner Support Services or EL services are similar to the district averages. Pender said the students served should be similar in demographics to the district. Students eligible for free and reduced-price meals is higher than district average (55 percent compared to 40 percent) and there is still overrepresentation of Hispanic and Black students compared to district percentages. A legislative report was included in the agenda with additional information.
There was discussion of measuring growth and how to determine whether the extra support is working, and that the district has an area learning center instead of an alternative program, which allows for this additional programming.
Martin provided an overview of the elementary EXCEL program, which is offered after-school at the elementary schools. Students receive extra support on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. At Hopkins the math support is one night while the literacy support is the other night. Some students only need reading support. Students work on math vocabulary and the same mathematics curriculum is used. Hopkins also offers a breakfast program for grades 1-2 that uses AmeriCorps volunteers to have students work on reading and comprehension skills.
During the summer, a three-week Jumpstart program allows students to prepare for the new school year. There are also transition activities for students moving to Horizon. The focus is on literacy, mathematics and school success skills. There is time for re-teaching and practice for students who meet qualifications.
EXCEL programs are cost-contained. Students earn a .2 ADM for 204 hours of targeted services a year. Some Title funds help with transportation. Moorhead High has struggled to get enough students to attend a program; the students generate the funds to run the program. The coordinators hire staff to meet the students’ needs (i.e., EL teacher, para services).
There was discussion that around grades 3 and 4 students shift from learning to read to reading to learn, and that shift can leave some kids behind. EXCEL helps grades 3-4 students focus on the learning to read piece because the teachers are moving on. There are needs at other levels, including serving Probstfield kindergarten. Further discussion focused on student growth, affect of inconsistent attendance on growth, MCA performance, and that students who are behind need to make a larger jump in growth. Growth isn’t attributable just to EXCEL, since it’s a team effort with services provided during the school day.
4. Update on First Year of Elementary Math Adoption
Instructional coaches Vicki Breneman and Andrea Manston provided information about the implementation of the new Bridges in Mathematics curriculum, noting that it has been a smooth and positive adoption cycle. Bridges in Mathematics is a comprehensive K-5 curriculum developed through The Math Learning Center. It meets and exceeds the Minnesota standards. The curriculum is rigorous and engaging, and it helps students become confident mathematical thinkers. This curriculum embraces the current research on how children learn math and how we should be teaching math.
Pioneers at each school in different grade levels used the curriculum last year. The program includes 60 minutes of problems and investigations. Problems are posted for the whole class, students think and work independently or talk in pairs before sharing, and the teacher monitors the discussion. The other component is Number Corner, which is set up around the calendar and includes exercises or games (such as Beat the Calculator) for students to work on skills or in small groups.
Professional development and support for teachers has including initial and ongoing support from Bridges, including two days of training during the summer (half day with each grade level), online support, professional learning communities, and the pioneers, math committee members and math instructional coaches. Right now the focus is just on learning the curriculum as each new unit includes information for teachers to read. Family communication is through newsletters, free math apps, media centers/SPUDS Landing, Bridges online support for families, home connections, math night, and a curriculum guide that is in draft stage.
There was discussion about whether there are strategies to use in early childhood programming, addressing parents’ math anxiety, whether parents are using the resources, and that the curriculum is designed to help students develop the strategies and mathematical thinking first before rote learning.