Local math teachers get connected with new hands-on learning program

KINGMAN – A group of math teachers in the Kingman Unified School District are going back to school this week to learn how to teach the Connected Math Program through a Michigan State University project.

Troy Regis is leading the three-day workshop at Kingman Junior High School that ends Wednesday.

He has 10 teachers, who will instruct pupils in grades six through eight next school year, as his students.

"Connected Math is different from textbook-style programs," he said.

"The kids build an understanding of principles as a teacher leads them in hands-on instruction, instead of the students being handed formulas and ideas to apply on their own."

Regis is an independent math consultant hired by the KUSD.

He said he has eight years teaching experience, the last seven with Connected Math.

"I'm here to give teachers the tools needed for the program and to let them know what may happen in the grade before and after they get a student," he said.

"Only two of the teachers (in the workshop) have used Connected Math before, so I'm trying to set them all up to be successful in the classroom."

The Connected Math Program is based on national standards and is one of five accredited math programs, Regis said.

A grant is paying for the program.

Regis said he explains the philosophy behind Connected Math and goes into an overview of numbers sense with specific units that "hit the strand."

"In sixth grade, teachers cover a Prime Time unit that looks at numbers sense," he said.

"That includes addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, vocabulary words and word games that go into context so children gain a better understanding."

Teachers attending the workshop are Jim Crawford from La Senita Elementary School, Sandra Hampson of Mount Tipton School, Marilee Moore and Kimber Fessler from Hualapai Elementary School, Ted Fredrickson and Kirstin Morgan of Black Mountain School, Diana Logas from Palo Christi School, April Barella of Manzanita Elementary School and Dani Jeanne Duncan and Erin Rasmussen of the junior high school.

Logas retires as principal at Palo Christi at the end of this month and will return next school year to teach a sixth-grade class.

She had some previous exposure to the Connected Math Program while evaluating teachers at her school.

"A lot of student training is necessary the first two days before exposing children to the instruction," Logas said.

"One of the first lessons for sixth-graders is playing a game, and they'll need a day or two to get accustomed to it.

You can't come in the first day, play the game and expect to be successful."

Duncan, who is new to the junior high school, will teach math and Spanish to seventh- and eighth-graders.

"I was exposed to Connected Math a little last year at meetings, so I know how it looks as far as setup," she said.

"It relates better to real world experiences and offers children something better to grasp."

Rasmussen also is new to the junior high school and will teach seventh- and eighth-grade math.

"This is very hands-on and I like the group aspect to it," Rasmussen said.

"The kids can relate one to another, so if one child doesn't get it another can help."

Barella was a teaching assistant for two years in the school district before earning a bachelor's degree in elementary and special education from Northern Arizona University.

She will teach a multiage 4-6 class next year at Manzanita.

"I like (Connected Math) because it's problem-based and allows kids to explore math concepts," Barella said.

"It's not just formulas given to them."

The district also is conducting a two-week seminar on math instructional techniques and algebraic thinking at Kingman High School-North.

That seminar runs through June 25 with participating teachers earning graduate credit from Portland State University, a press release states.

In addition, more than 60 teachers are expected for an Integrated Thematic Instruction workshop during the summer.

Teachers in grades kindergarten through six will meet at Palo Christi School and teachers in grades seven through 12 will attend their workshop at Kingman High School-North on dates to be announced.