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Bellevue School District preparing new math curriculum

Spiritridge Elementary School students Jack Dawes, left, works on a math problem as Alex Kelley checks out the new Math Expressions workbook in Randi Peterson
Spiritridge Elementary School students Jack Dawes, left, works on a math problem as Alex Kelley checks out the new Math Expressions workbook in Randi Peterson's class.
— image credit: Fumiko Yarita/Bellevue Reporter

The Bellevue Schools Foundation is working with Bellevue teachers, administrators, parents and students to roll out a new and improved math program to better prepare students for higher-level math classes.

During the 2007-2008 school year, 100 teachers in Bellevue elementary schools volunteered to run a pilot program using a new curriculum called Math Expressions. The program, which aligns with the Bellevue Math Standards and the Washington State Math Standards, fosters math skills through the use of student textbooks, work books, teacher materials and an electronic version of the curriculum posted on the District's curriculum website.

Implementing Math Expressions for the 2008-2009 school year cost the district more than $500,000. The foundation raised an additional $170,000 for the new program.

For the past 10 years, the Bellevue School District has used the same math curriculum across in all elementary classrooms. The district and foundation decided it was time for a fresh take on the way teachers and students approach math.

To ensure a smooth transition for the students between elementary, middle and high school, the middle school teachers are going through a training crash course on the Math Expression program to better prepare them for the incoming sixth graders.

"We are working to be intentional about linking the grades and creating a smooth transition of mathematical learning as the students progress from grade to grade," explained Elementary Math Curriculum Coach Amy MacDonald. "Math Expressions creates a narrow learning path which will help students and parents stay on track for shaping the building blocks of mathematics."

The Math Expressions program focuses on teaching students one topic at a time until mastery and creating a good balance between conceptual understanding and computational practice.

"If a student doesn't have a strong grasp on multiplication table, how can they build on more difficult concepts," said Kirsten Pickering, another Elementary Math Curriculum Coach. "The new math curriculum will make sure every student has a firm grasp on each and every concept before they progress to the next one."

According to Steve Blatt, the district's Middle School Math Curriculum Development and Technology Curriculum Coach, the high schools throughout the district are going through a simultaneous adoption process of the new math curriculum.

"Math Expressions will prepare our elementary school students to a higher degree in mathematical understanding," he explained. "By the time they transition to high school, they will be well prepared to take on the academic challenges expected of them."

The goal, said Blatt, is to have the Bellevue students on track to enroll in Advanced Placement Calculus by senior year of high school.

Lindsay Larin can be reached at 425.453.4602.

For more information on the new Math Expressions program visit the Curriculum Web at www.bsd405.org.

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