'Brains are on fire' in Amherst
"Six, which is a part, and four, which is another part, are equal to the whole, which is 10," she says. "Can I prove it on the scale?"
"It is equal. How do I know?" asks McHugh.
"Because it balances," the class replies in unison.
"So many kids have their brains on fire," says our precocious greeter.
In SAU 39, the seeds of algebraic thinking are sown in first grade, said Heimarck, through a new math curriculum that's been five years in the making and is consistent with Common Core math standards.
Getting a headstart
When the New Hampshire Board of Education decided to replace the state's Grade Level Expectations with Common Core State Standards in 2010, SAU 39 was already one year into a review of its math curriculum, said Heimarck. The district was well-positioned to become one of the state's earliest adopters of Common Core, and it embraced the standards as a foundation.
The district applied for and received a federal grant under Title II-A, a fund for teacher training programs, and used the money to bring an internationally known consultant on math education into the Amherst district schools for a year. Teachers also attended a weeklong institute in math education in the summer of 2011, volunteering their time. The district began to phase in the new curriculum, starting with kindergarten and Grade 1 in 2010 and continuing at two grade levels each year.
The first round of statewide testing based on Common Core starts in 2015.
SAU 39 may be well down the road toward implementing Common Core, but it has not been immune to the recent mobilization of opponents. About 75 people attended a Common Core forum at Souhegan High School on Nov. 6, after which a statewide organization opposing the standards, Math Wizards, posted the following critique:
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