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New math curriculum recommended in Idaho Falls

New math curriculum a possibility in Idaho Falls schools

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Idaho Core, or Common Core, has been in Idaho classrooms for a couple of years. Idaho Falls School District 91 is taking public comment on a new elementary math curriculum. It's called Math in Focus and it was developed in Singapore.  A committee that included three Fox Hollow Elementary teachers voted 12-2 in favor of recommending Math in Focus to the school board.

Annette Perez's fifth-grade class has already begun work on the new curriculum.

"I gave them the problem of 'Is it possible to create a triangle out of any three straight lines?' and at first, they all thought, 'Yes that's possible,' so I gave them the task of finding one that wouldn't work like a mathematician would, and they soon found some that wouldn't work, and they had to come up with a conjecture," said Perez.

Curriculum coordinator Todd Brown said their current program didn't align enough with Common Core. The new plan actually surpasses what Common Core requires.

"It is based on teaching kids with concrete materials first, then move to pictorial representation, then symbolic," said Brown.

"I know a lot of people think oh this now says there is no wrong answer in math. That's not true. It's just the way the kids go about building their math is going to be a lot different," said third-grade teacher Alexa Manley.

Manley demonstrated several different ways to come up with the answer to a simple multiplication problem. She said all would be accepted in her classroom.

Second-grade teachers like Marsha Stark face some of the biggest challenges.

"The new curriculum they want us teaching multiplication and division as well as teaching fractions, adding and subtracting fractions, which in second grade we have never done fractions to that extent. So, it will be a challenge to figure out how to meet all those different needs and make sure we teach what we need to," said Stark.

The district has hosted several open houses about the curriculum and will continue to take public comments and questions. The school board will vote whether or not to accept Math in Focus on May 13. 

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