Math department recalculates program
At the LSIC (Local School Improvement Council) meeting at Pocahontas County High School January 17, math teachers informed the board of education about the new math program that will be implemented at the school next year.
Math teacher Chris Sutton explained that by 2014, Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II will be replaced by Math I, II and III under the new common core standards implemented by the state department of education.
To make the transition easier for the students, Sutton said the math department is going to begin implementing the new curriculum next year. They will begin with Math I and Math I Support in 2012-2013, the add Math II in 2013-2014. By the time the state requires all schools to switch over in 2014, the students at PCHS will have two years of the new curriculum under their belts.
ﾓ[In 2014] we will have already had students coming out of Math I and Math II, so they can go straight into Math III or technical math, depending on their pathway,ﾔ Sutton said.
Math III splits into three types of math classes that are aimed toward the type of career the students plan to enter. Math III is split into three types of upper level math: technical readiness, liberal arts and STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) readiness. The liberal arts and STEM readiness math are for students who will enter college, and technical readiness is for students who will enter the workforce after graduation.
The new math program changes the way algebra and geometry are taught.
Sutton explained the way the curriculum is designed.
ﾓThe reason theyﾒre not calling it algebra or geometry anymore is because theyﾒve taken Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II, and sort of combined those curriculums,ﾔ he said. ﾓWhenever they learn a concept in Algebra I that can be applied to Geometry, they donﾒt have to wait an entire year before they get to apply it. Itﾒs a better flow to the math class than the way we currently have it.ﾔ
Principal Tom Sanders said he is concerned about the new math because the state will not allow teachers who are certified through ninth grade to teach the new curriculum. Two of PCHSﾒs math teachers, Teresa Rhea and Nebraska Beverage, fit into that category.
ﾓThey [the state] are going to have the Teacher Leadership Institute. Theyﾒre going to have the math people there that are ninth grade certified and surely, with no more CSOs [Content Standards and Objectives] that they have put in Math I, they should allow them to teach Math I,ﾔ Sanders said. ﾓWe really canﾒt start next year, unless we can get [them] certified to teach Math I. We really do need to start with that group next year so by 2014, weﾒre rolling and not just trying to throw it in there again, like it has happened in the past.ﾔ
ﾓWe were certified to teach through Algebra I, and now, all of a sudden, weﾒre not certified to teach what weﾒve been teaching, because theyﾒre putting in Geometry and Algebra II CSOs,ﾔ Rhea said. ﾓThey are still working on that, but we know weﾒre going to have to do something very intensive this summer, along with going to TLI. Thatﾒs why weﾒre asking for a week-long institute here, because we just have to be ready to hit the ground running next fall. Itﾒs going to be a tremendous change.ﾔ
With the addition of another full-time math teacher, Beverage, Sutton said it is easier to offer more classes, including honors courses.
ﾓOne of the ways thatﾒs going to help us in the future is weﾒre going to, my goal, is to be able to offer an AP Calculus class,ﾔ he said. ﾓWith the staffing we have, weﾒre able to have a Calculus course this semester, which is great for students going off to college.ﾔ
Sutton said they are also able to offer Algebra I and Algebra I Support all year, which helps the students transition into the higher level maths.
ﾓIf we do have students struggling in class, maybe they got Cs for sixth, seventh and eighth grade. C is 25 percent of material they havenﾒt learned, so if theyﾒre coming in with Cs, theyﾒve still missed out on 25 percent of the material since sixth grade.
Whenever they make that transition into high school, it makes it a lot easier, and they can get a lot more out of it if they can build a stronger base before they get into the other high school math classes,ﾔ he said.
Sutton said the reason students have such a hard time with math is because they donﾒt have the same exposure to math as they do other subjects.
ﾓIﾒve talked about how, at night time whenever you put your kids to bed, you read them a bedtime story, but not too many people do math problems,ﾔ he said. ﾓI think one of the biggest reasons they struggle with math is just the lack of exposure, so the more we can give the students, the better off they are.ﾔ
Board president Kenneth Vance asked if the students are still struggling with the math all year long.
ﾓTheyﾒre passing it, but itﾒs not the Algebra II class that we would like to be offering,ﾔ Sutton said. ﾓWhenever you have a class, without a strong foundation, they are coming in already struggling. Algebra II is really supposed to be a college prep class. It wasnﾒt necessarily that we didnﾒt teach them all the concepts, itﾒs just we might not have gone into the type of depth we would have liked to do. We just had to make it more accessible to the students.ﾔ
Rhea said she is particularly concerned about her students, in lower level math, because they have a difficult time with the current curriculum. She is afraid the new math will be too difficult for them to understand.
ﾓIﾒm very concerned about these changes because this is getting more and more rigorous,ﾔ she said. ﾓAll of you know, there is full inclusion, so we have all students. Right now, in my first block class, which is Algebra I, I have 28 students and 14 have IEPs (Individualized Education Plans). In our new textbooks we adopted this year, thereﾒs a chapter zero before we start into the Algebra chapters that basically reviews middle school math. Besides finishing that chapter zero, this first term, I was only able to finish three chapters with the skill level of the students that I have. A total of four chapters in 18 weeks, thatﾒs with pushing everything that we could.ﾔ
Rhea said she is concerned she will not be able to meet all the requirements and be able to cover all the CSOs in Math I. On top of the 25 Algebra I CSOs, Math I incorporates nine CSOs from Algebra II, 13 from Geometry, two from eighth grade, two from seventh grade and 10 new CSOs. That is a total of 61 CSOs for one class.
ﾓWeﾒre doing all we can right now, and I know these are going to be integrated,ﾔ she said. ﾓThank goodness Joanna [Burt-Kinderman] is helping us do that and weﾒre going to have that training this summer, but I just want people to understand, once this rolls in, hopefully they will be ready. We need all the help we can to get them to that point before they get here because if I have to continue to take half of that first course to re-teach the basic skills, Iﾒm just very concerned, not only that Iﾒm going to need training this summer, Iﾒm really just worried about the kids.ﾔ
Vocational teachers have noticed their students struggle with basic math in their classes.
ﾓWe do have a little trouble with our students on the math,ﾔ electricity teacher Wilbert Smith said. ﾓI know myself, coming out of the trade, itﾒs disappointing. If they donﾒt have a calculator in their hands, they canﾒt do that math. If youﾒre standing on top of a ladder with a piece of paper and little pencil, and youﾒve got to measure pipe or a board, youﾒve got to make that measurement right, you donﾒt have a calculator.ﾔ
ProStart teacher Teresa Mullen added that her students have problems with fractions.
The board expressed their concerns that parents have a difficult time helping their children with math because they wonﾒt be able to understand the new curriculum either.
ﾓWe need to be doing better with that, getting teachers and parents better connected,ﾔ math coach Burt-Kinderman said.
ﾓThereﾒs a big learning curve here, but itﾒs a necessary one, to be heading in the direction that we need to address the fact that West Virginia is last in the country in math and the United States is among the last of the industrialized nations.ﾔ
ﾓAs a culture, we need to change the idea of math literacy,ﾔ math teacher Leah Shinaberry added. ﾓIt shouldnﾒt be okay to stand up and say, ﾑIﾒm terrible at math.ﾒﾔ Through the new curriculum, by integrating these parts, instead of Algebra I being in its own little box, and Geometry being in its own little box, and Algebra II in its own little box, by putting these together and making it practical, hopefully that will take away some of the stigma of ﾑI canﾒt do math.ﾒﾔ
The carpentry and electricity departments are also changing curriculums. Duane Gibson and Smith said the names of the courses are changing and, similar to the new math courses, the new courses are a combination of the former curriculum.
In other updates:
ﾕ Faculty senate president and LSIC representative Mike Knisely reported on the status of both organizations. The faculty senate is currently researching weighting grades for honors classes.
Knisely said they have contacted surrounding schools for information on how they weight grades. He said Pendleton County High School weights grades in any class that is above normal college admittance. No decisions have been made on weighted grades at PCHS.
The LSIC has discussed ways to beautify the exterior of the school, especially the entrance. Knisely said they are looking at planting some trees to make the entrance more inviting to visitors to the school. The LSIC had students help with a project to display all the sports plaques in the hallways, which has added to the look of the school and shows off the studentsﾒ achievements.
The group is also looking at ways to improve parental involvement. Along with having parent/teacher conferences, the school sent out letters to parents of students who had difficulties in the first nine weeks of school.
ﾕ Guidance counselor Linda Beverage presented board members with copies of the scholarship directory she and Chamber of Commerce VISTA Emily Lassiter created. The directory, a living document that will continue to grow, currently has information on more than 100 scholarships available to the students.
Beverage said she wants to add information about financial aid to the notebook before providing one to each of the juniors and seniors. She added that 30 students have already applied for scholarships and colleges, and six students have expressed an interest in joining the military.
ﾕ Sanders shared the Career and Technical placement results for students who took the ACT WorkKeys test. The class of 2011 had a 95 percent success rate. The students were tested in the course of their choice, whether it was electricity, carpentry, horticulture, or office administration. All 40 of the students tested met the Global 21 performance assessment standard.
ﾕ The ProStart and Agriculture programs both received modernization grants for upgrades to the ProStart classroom and the greenhouse.
Mullen said the ProStart classroom will get a completely new kitchen with an induction system, a double stack oven and cabinets made by Duane Gibsonﾒs carpentry class. The students will each have their own personal stove.
Agriculture education teacher Samantha Barkley said the greenhouse has a new radiant heat floor and they will replace the plastic walls and add new stainless steel tables so the students can again grow plants as a fundraiser.
ﾕ Mullen shared copies of a cookbook her students compiled. She said the students learned how to make all of the recipes this year.
ﾕ Sanders recognized the Future Farmers of America (FFA) team for their first place win at the state competition this year. Drew Collocia, Jed Sheets, Spencer Carr and Steven Casto, with the help of their instructor, Scott Garber, will represent PCHS at the national competition.
ﾕ SkillUSA sponsor Gary Beverage reported the club will hold its annual steak dinner January 27, 6 to 8 p.m. at PCHS. Tickets for the dinner are $12.50 each.