It is always interesting to hear what our education partners say about ST Math. The voices of educators and administrators who use the programs ultimately help MIND Research Institute do a better job of developing and implementing an approach that indeed ensures every student is mathematically equipped to solve the world’s most challenging problems. Sometimes, we confirm we are doing the right things with the programs to support educators. Other times, we learn what we could do differently to enhance instruction. This summer, we invited a panel of educators to share their thoughts with us around how ST Math is used in their classrooms, how the program performs, and what we as an organization might do better to enhance our service to administrators, teachers, and students. During MIND Research Institute’s all-company summit, three educators addressed the topic as part of a moderated question and answer session. And while there was plenty of praise for ST Math and excitement around the programs, we learned a little bit more about how our education partners are using ST Math to help their students.
Laurel Rotter, mathematics supervisor at Pinellas County Schools, FL, highlighted the way ST Math is used throughout their district to serve elementary math learners, but especially to meet the needs of special student populations – ELL students, students with special needs, as well as students who are homebound. “ST Math intrigued me because there was no language involved,” said Rotter. In Pinellas County, where over 4,000 students are classified as Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and nearly 15,000 students have special needs, Rotter emphasized “we (the district) have been encouraging teachers to use ST Math as a part of their core curriculum.” The district originally deployed ST Math in six elementary schools in the 2011 school year. The next year, the program reached 17 elementary schools. Last year, the district implemented ST Math in all 74 elementary schools across the district.
Nevada has adopted the Common Core State Standards. Carrie Buck, Ed.D., Principal at Pinecrest Academy, a charter school in the Clark County, NV, school district, focused on how ST Math helps educators with transition to the Common Core. “ST Math fits nicely into the Common Core’s grade-level standards,” said Buck. “The curriculum reinforces daily lessons and it fits so well.” With many publishers (both print and digital) struggling to align to both the letter and the spirit of the Common Core State Standards, it was encouraging to hear Buck discuss ST Math as a resource that needed no realignment. The programs directly address the content and practice standards without an educator having to guess whether or not the program they implement conforms to those standards.
Shannon Duncan, a grade 6 math and science teacher at McPherson Magnet School in California’s Orange Unified School District, spoke to ST Math’s ability to engage her middle school-age students in a way that no other math program can. At a time in a student’s development when they can lose focus, become disinterested, and miss critical building blocks leading up to the study of Algebra I, Duncan noted her students “have really taken the reins on their own learning” with ST Math. She added, “This program has affected 100% of my kids … regardless of academic level or socio-economic background.” Duncan is an enthusiastic teacher and uses the program as a key element of the core mathematics curriculum in her classroom. She also mentioned that she would like to see a feature in the programs that allows reporting on the length of time a student is logged into ST Math during each session. So, we came away with a new feature we can add to ST Math in the future!
It is great to hear from our education partners how well ST Math performs in their schools and districts. The applications for the program are many. And we learn from each institution as we work with their teachers and administrators to meet the many critical needs in mathematics education.
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MIND Research Institute welcomes guest blogs that highlight best practices in math education, blended learning and innovative learning strategies that inspire students at all ages.