State-of-the-art math program comes to Carman-Ainsworth

FLINT TWP. — An invitation for Carman-Ainsworth Middle School students to participate in a state-of-the-art math curriculum is under consideration after being discussed at a recent school board meeting.

Assistant Superintendent Steve Tunnicliff explained the invitation from Pearson, a leading education technology company, offers free use of its new “digits’’ math program as part of a two-year efficacy study beginning in September. digits is a totally interactive all-digiital curriculum that comes complete with interactive whiteboard lesson plans, power points and other teaching tools already done, Tunnicliff said. It is designed to be personalized to the needs of each individual student and maximizes the growing popularity of interactive whiteboard technology.

Tunnicliff explained that the program would establish a control group wherein half the middle-school math teachers would use digits and the other half would continue to use the current curriculum.

The two-year longitudinal study would track student progress from sixth through eighth grade. CA would have to commit to sixth and seventh grade math teachers implementing this product next school year and then seventh and eighth the following year.

“To be frank our middle school math could use some support,” Tunnicliff said. “Our teachers are great, but our current curriculum is very traditional. To have a whole new math program for free would be pretty special.’’

Tunnicliff said he is not yet ready to recommend that CAMS join the study but he has taken a preliminary look at sample lessons Pearson sent to him. He was impressed by what he saw and also said the it intrigued CAMS administrators and teachers who saw it.

“Obviously, I need a lot more time to take a look at it before saying it is something we would be interested in,’’ Tunnicliff told the school board.

Another advantage he pointed out is that digits is already aligned with the new common core curriculum standards that most states including Michigan have adopted.

Pearson developed digits in coordination with the release of the Common Core State Standards according to information on its website. Several digits authors and advisors were involved in the writing or review of the Common Core Standards.

“We believe that digits has the potential to truly transform math teaching and learning,” said Dr. Francis “Skip” Fennell, a digits author and past President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). “Our goal was to create a learning experience that would not only appeal to, but truly engage middle grade students in doing mathematics. The program’s use of flexible and customizable technology gives teachers the information and instructional resources they need to address individual needs. Teachers can now adjust elements within any lesson to meet a student’s needs in real time.“

Tunnicliff said that after further review he would be contacting board members because a commitment would have to be made during the summer and preparations made for the middle school to be ready to participate in the digits study by September.

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