11News Special Report: Homework Help

By: Glen Mills Email
By: Glen Mills Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO)_When it's time to help the kids with their math homework these days it can feel more like helping them learn a foreign language. That's because there's a new way they are learning their times tables.

District 51 says the change was factored in after in-depth research on both state and national standards.
This program was selected with the goal of getting more students interested in math, by helping them understand it better and to get all schools on the same page..

"Every district school was allowed to adopt any program they wanted for their students, but we have a very high mobility rate, so we found out it wasn't serving our students very well as they moved around the district," says Mathematics Curriculum leader Julie Schmalz.

But the switch has been a challenging equation for both parents and teachers.

"Anything you teach for the first time is always a challenge, but this is teaching new ways of doing things you've done your whole life differently," says Rim Rock Elementary Teacher Todd Bishop.

Bishop has been teaching for 14 years. Just like the parents of his students he learned to multiply using the traditional U.S. Algorithm and had to adjust to the new conceptual algorithm.

But after some problem solving, Bishop sees the benefit it offers the students. He says it helps children understand how numbers work together by breaking them down into more manageable groups.

Perhaps you've noticed your child breaking down numbers by using a box. That box is known as an Array.
Bishop gives an example of how it works compared to the traditional method of multiplying 85 by 23.

"If we use the new way this curriculum teaches we would do an expanded notation on it we would take these numbers apart. 80 plus 5 and 20 plus 3. Then we put them into an Array, so we would go 80 and 5 and 20 and 3 and we would multiply these together.1600, 240, 100 and 15,” Once the Array is filled in you take the four numbers, add them up and get the answer which is 1955.

"Instead of just going through a pattern and magically coming up with the answer in the traditional algorithm they actually see how the numbers are working together," says Bishop.

Once students get the new theory down, then they are taught the traditional short cut parents are most familiar with.

Bishop says the two add up to equal knowledge that can keep students at the head of the class and hopefully build more math minded generations in the future.

The District’s website is full of resources for parents to help their students succeed. It has parent brochures, student math handbooks that explain the new theory and other helpful homework tips. Click on the attached link to head to the website.

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