New Bridges math curriculum facilitating excitement across elementary schools
Math feels exciting and new across the three elementary schools at Nooksack Valley Schools. Students can thank teachers working diligently to institute the new Bridges curriculum, one full of interactive activities.
“I feel like, for the first time, this curriculum has allowed kids who didn’t see themselves as mathematicians to have confidence,” says Amy Moss, Sumas Elementary teacher. “The design of workplaces, one of the components of the program, allows me to differentiate my instruction and meets kids right where they are at. They love the games; math feels exciting and new.”
Nooksack Valley wrapped a two-year effort last year that included piloting multiple new math curriculums before settling on Bridges for having built itself from the ground up for common core standards, using a different approach than other curriculums. Plus, Bridges aligns with Nooksack Valley Schools’ teaching philosophy.
Sarah Condreay, the district’s teacher on special assignment working with teachers across all three schools in implementing the new curriculum, says the change has required plenty of work for the teachers, but feedback has remained incredibly positive. “I was talking to a first-grade teacher from Everson who says she finally feels that she has a curriculum that engages all the kids, builds math vocabulary, builds language skills and hits all the students where she needs to hit them,” Condreay says. “I am hearing they feel it is way more comprehensive. It makes the hard work worth it.”
Popping in and out of classrooms across the district, Condreay has seen the “volume go way up” when it comes to math. Students stay engaged, play math games and work on vocabulary during Workplaces. “They are working with partners, talking about math and having great little conversations,” she says. “They also get excited about Number Corner, where I am noticing a lot more engagement.”
The Number Corner aspect happens daily and involves collaborative class time with different efforts designed to pre-teach concepts and build on theory over the course of a month.
Through it all students and teachers will continue to understand how all the pieces fit together as the students go deep into learning new standards.
“I love Bridges,” Moss says. “Kids are now settling into the new routines and as our teacher confidence grows, so does the students’ confidence.” Teachers have worked collaboratively in teams to plan and discuss lessons, all while discovering new components of the curriculum. “What I most love about Bridges is the many different visual models for kids to ‘see’ the math,” Moss says. “It’s all about making connections and a real constructivist approach to understating how our number system works.”
Moss, who brings her own impressive level of excitement to her class, says that when she has a good time teaching the students have a good time learning. “The energy that I try to bring to my instruction helps create community,” she says. “Our new curriculum depends a lot on kids taking risks and trying out things that are new for them. It also involves kids being able to talk to other kids and explain their thinking. If they feel safe enough to do that, it’s a win. I want kids to see that math is fun, figuring out things is fun and that school is a fun place to be!”