Math education, personalized

Marshalltown students begin to experience ST Math

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS
Heather Pals’ third graders opened their chromebooks and went through concepts on the newly-implemented ST Math online learning platform at Anson Elementary on Wednesday. The program is designed to compliment the district’s Go Math curriculum, and can help both advanced students and students struggling with math.

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS Heather Pals’ third graders opened their chromebooks and went through concepts on the newly-implemented ST Math online learning platform at Anson Elementary on Wednesday. The program is designed to compliment the district’s Go Math curriculum, and can help both advanced students and students struggling with math.

About a year after efforts began to bring an online, personalized math program to Marshalltown Schools, students are beginning to dig into the new software.

“It allows them to go faster or slower, but it starts them out on their grade level,” said district Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson of ST Math. “We’re aware that the core curriculum isn’t always sufficient to help kids that need acceleration or remediation in math.”

The rollout of ST Math is meant to compliment the district’s new Go Math curriculum at all six elementary schools and Lenihan Intermediate School.

With a total implementation cost of $240,000, the district relied on many funds, organizations and businesses to help make ST Math a reality in Marshalltown. A grant from the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council helped get the process started, Stevenson said.

“We needed to have certain pieces of the puzzle fall into place,” she said, adding of district Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte “He is the one who set up all the community meetings to showcase the program and explain the vision we had for moving ST Math forward.”

So far, Stevenson said students in grades 3-6 can all access ST Math. Teachers of kindergarten to second grade students are still getting training on the program, and will likely start ST Math in their classrooms by next week.

Preschool students will have started the program by parent-teacher conferences in early October.

“They just had their training last week and are waiting for their devices to arrive,” Stevenson said of district preschool teachers.

One advantage of the program is that students can access it in their homes, given they have an internet connection and a compatible device, Stevenson said.

Before starting an ST Math session, students log in using a single sign on support service called Clever. The service allows them to access not only ST Math, but also Lexia Reading CORE 5 and other programs used in school.

Once logged on, students are presented with puzzles, quizzes and game-like activities designed to help teach math concepts and determine what level of performance the student is meeting. A penguin character named Jiji guides them through the program’s interface.

“They get in there and there are certain puzzles that are grade-level specific,” Stevenson said.

“Those puzzles are laid out over a year’s time for students to complete.”

She said the program is designed so that students spend at least 15-20 minutes a day practicing. Additionally, all students start the program at whatever grade level they’re in and move on from there.

“It allows them to go faster or slower, but it starts them out on their grade level,” Stevenson said. “Based on how they do on the pre- and post quizzes for the puzzles, it lets them move faster or slower.”

While the quizzes are multiple-choice, she said students are asked how confident they are in their answer before submitting.

“We want to eliminate the guessing component,” Stevenson said. “We want the students to self-assess.”

The reason self-assessment is important, Stevenson said, is because it makes the activities more than memorization exercises.

“We really want students to think critically and problem-solve,” she said. “There’s a place for memorization, but that isn’t the purpose of ST Math.”

Parents with questions about the program are encouraged to contact their child’s teacher. There will also be more information shared by the district about helping students with the program at home.

For more information on the district, visit https://www.marshalltown.k12.ia.us

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com