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Families open the book on math with their students

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Michelle Benages, Math Coordinator for CCSD59, beamed with pride watching students eager to share their knowledge with the groups that visited the junior high buildings last week. 

More elation came when she heard how the students’ enthusiasm jogged math memories for their families. 

“Our staff loved seeing students’ faces light up when they spoke of their math experiences in the classroom,” she said. “Families were able to draw back to their personal math experiences from their time in school, and then watched their children excitedly wanting to share their math thinking with the audience.” 

That idea was a primary focus of the series of Illustrative Math Family Nights held at Friendship, Grove, and Holmes Junior High last week. Several hundred families spent an evening with CCSD59 staff to familiarize themselves with the district curricular math resource, Illustrative Math (IM), and take a deeper look at what their students’ experience with math looks like each day. 

Students and staff are in the second year of IM being the core curricular resource for the district, and the CCSD59 Instruction Department was enthusiastic to share how students have been able to connect their lessons from the first year to now. Families were invited to hear from representatives from the district and IM, and were able to share with the group and their children how they learned math in school. Then, they had the chance to find comparisons and differences to how their children are learning math, including taking part in interactive games to see how students’ problem-solving skills can steer their lessons. 

“These activities gave families a chance to see the benefits and power of a problem-based classroom where the focus shifts from a teacher telling and correcting to how our students’ mathematical thinking drives the instruction,” said Benages. “Each IM lesson is part of a mathematical story that spans across various units and grades. This allows students to view math as a connected set of ideas that makes sense for the long term.”

In between the fun of games, raffles, and giveaways, Benages saw the appreciation from visitors for offering an in-depth look at this core subject and what their students see. 

“The most lasting impression was how families saw the difference a problem-based curriculum is making in their child’s learning of math. Several families shared how they enjoyed seeing their child’s workbooks and how it coincides with what they can access digitally.”

math thumb storyDistrict staff also reinforced its mission to help support math at home, and a survey was provided to families shortly after for their opinion on math in CCSD59. 

“Each family should know that their child is being provided the absolute best math learning experience in their classrooms with IM that is a high quality instructional core resource. Each student is being given for hands-on learning, collaboration with their peers, and time to practice their math skills in fun and engaging ways!”

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