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New math program a hit with elementary students, teachers

Comstock Park — Penelope Ply likes math because she says she gets to learn “all sorts of new stuff.” 

The first-grader can now compare numbers, and has learned the concepts of “equal to,” “greater than” and “less than.” 

Although Penelope doesn’t know it, she and her classmates in Katie Williams’ room at Stoney Creek Elementary are some of the first in the county using Reveal Math, a new elementary math curriculum from McGraw Hill. For a digital tour, click here.

The district’s Board of Education last year approved spending $114,000 for the new K-5 curriculum. The expenditure includes teacher materials, an online account, assessments and workbooks for the next six years.

“Our new curriculum offers more rigor for students,” Williams said. That includes more opportunities for student-led exploration, and more one-on-one student interaction. 

Williams said the previous math curriculum was difficult to follow. “The lessons were too long and not developmentally appropriate,” she said.

The district hopes Reveal Math will help improve test scores. The Board of Education will look into adopting the curriculum for grades 6 -12 in the next school year. 

Fourth-graders in Wendy Hawes’ class are using the new Reveal Math materials this year

Fourth-graders React

Ayla Cole and Emilee Carpenter, fourth-graders in Wendy Hawes’ classroom at Pine Island Elementary, say math is more fun this year. 

They enjoy starting each lesson with a section called “Be Curious,” followed by “Notice and Wonder.” Under the new program, students can take part in the conversation no matter their math confidence.

“It’s really fun,” Ayla said. Both said they enjoy the graphic characters in the workbook and pointed out that one named “Hayley” is their favorite.

“They’re cool characters,” Ayla said.

The lessons are laid out the same, with an “On Our Own” section, and fourth-graders use a whiteboard when they need extra practice.

Emilee said her class has already learned addition and subtraction strategies and algorithms. The pair noted they are making good progress in their first workbook. 

“I think it’s worth it. This is a very good math program,” Ayla said about the district’s investment.

Engaging Students, Teacher Choices

Katie Austin, curriculum director for Comstock Park, said Reveal Math engages students as mathematicians in many ways. She said the curriculum includes a variety of digital resources and materials to meet students’ needs such as differentiated materials and teacher and student books, games, hands-on activities, illustrations to solve problems and opportunities for discussion. There also is a Spanish option for ESL students and families. 

All that gives teachers a choice in the presentation of a lesson, and provides them with materials to meet the needs of their students, Austin said, rather than rote memorization. 

Teacher Reviews

First-grade teacher Lindsey Kilgore said the units are much shorter than previously, which can help when assessing young learners. 

“It helps keep the concepts organized and easy to access when the students are trying to recall them,” Kilgore said. “There are more opportunities to collaborate with other learners in this curriculum, and my students love to talk.”

She said the lessons, materials and assessments are easier to understand with larger fonts, simple directions, colorful illustrations and videos.

“I have been noticing my students are responding better to the quicker units that wrap up faster and build upon one another, helping them grasp  the objective better than in our other curriculum.”

Hawes said Reveal Math is all encompassing.

“It does have everything laid out very well for each unit and lesson,” Hawes said, and teachers have options for lesson presentation, games, spiral review lessons, and enhanced learning for students who are ready for more complex applications.

Reveal Math includes a more engaging format for fourth-graders
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Karen Gentry
Karen Gentry covers Comstock Park. She is from Evansville, Indiana and St. Joseph, Mich. and a graduate of Lake Michigan Catholic High School and Central Michigan University. She moved to the Grand Rapids area in the mid-1980s and has been a resident of Comstock Park since 2002. She understands the complexity, rewards and challenges of the teaching profession as she has five years of experience as a high school teacher at River Valley High School in Three Oaks, Mich. and St. Stephen High School in Saginaw. As a reporter for the Advance Newspapers and Mlive she covered Sparta, Kent City and Northview schools. She is happy to be reunited with some of her journalism colleagues and writing about Comstock Park Public Schools for the School News Network. Read Karen's full bio

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