The Math Modernist Blog

A Tale of Two Elementary Teachers

Precut Card Deck
Grade 3 Card Sort Equal Groups Box

Camille from Kentucky

Meet Camille.  

Camille teaches second grade at an Elementary school in Kentucky.  Her district recently adopted Illustrative Math, a K-5 math curriculum.  When Camille returned from summer break, she found workbooks in her classroom for all of the units.  She learned during professional development how to access the curriculum, and she began planning her lessons.  Camille was encouraged to use the slide decks, the lesson activities, and the centers.  She began downloading the game boards and card decks for the centers, realizing immediately that her school doesn’t have a color printer or card stock readily available.  This was frustrating for Camille, but she did her best to make it work.  Then came Unit 1 Lesson 10.  It required her to cut out card decks for student partnerships to use, as the curriculum guidance recommended.  In her class of 24, she had to cut out 12 decks of cards.  This took her 20 minutes, between going to the copier, printing, and cutting.  The next day, she used them with her students for the same amount of time, 20 minutes.  She was thrilled with the discourse from her students, and was also grateful that Unit 1 had no more cards to cut.  Then came Unit 2, where five lessons required cutting enough cards for each partnership or individual student to have a deck.  Camille became discouraged.  Each time she cut the decks out, it took longer to go to the copier, come back, and cut them all than it did to use them with her students. Camille could see the amazing value of doing these activities with her students and she was eager to, yet the time it took made her question if it was worth it.  Camille went to her building coach and asked what could be done. The coach began to explore the options.


Ratosha from California

Meet Ratosha.  

Ratosha teaches first grade at a K-8 school in California. Ratosha works in a school with a principal who believes that every student can learn and love math, and her principal is invested in her teachers.  Her teachers are honest and vocal about their needs, and time is often the thing that they say that they need most.  Ratosha’s principal had her teachers pilot two math programs, ultimately deciding on Illustrative Math. The principal asked teachers what they found to be most difficult and they were clear - they wanted the materials to be ready-to-use, so that they could focus on student thinking.  The principal began doing her homework and found only a few options for ready-to-use kits. Ultimately, Ratosha’s principal decided to purchase The Math Modernist’s Publisher-Aligned kits based on IM K-5 Math™.  This meant that her teachers had center and lesson materials ready-to-go.  Instead of Ratosha cutting over 6,500 cards for centers and lessons, which were the most time-consuming, Ratosha got to enjoy teaching mathematics, and her students shared in her love of problem-solving and felt her joy as she implemented the powerful, coherent program, complete with games and card sorts.  Ultimately, Ratosha feels valued.  She feels seen by her principal and, because she is more present for her students, they feel seen, too.  Ratosha isn't going anywhere and her love of teaching math continues to grow with every ready-made lesson card sort that she does with her students. 

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