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Transforming Math Learning

When Northbrook District 28 implemented a new math program in 2020, there was an intentional shift to develop students into problem-solvers rather than simply answer-getters.

The new program was the product of two years of research by district and high school educators and input for parents and students.

“We found a really strong consensus that developing confident mathematicians was a high priority,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kris Raitzer. The committee’s work was ready for implementation in 2020. Despite the pandemic, teachers of all grades rolled up their sleeves and embraced “Bridges in Mathematics” for elementary grades and an updated version of “Big Ideas: Modeling Real Life” for grades 6-8.

The new program has changed math from step-by-step demonstration and instruction to rich math environments where students work together using a variety of math models to solve problems and develop a deep understanding of math operations.

Elementary classrooms use “workplaces” where small groups of students work together on various games and activities to practice and enhance skills while teachers work directly with other students to differentiate instruction and assess understanding.

At the junior high, working from the textbook has been replaced with small group work around new concepts and sharing their thinking on problem-solving strategies.

The revised math program has improved students’ confidence in math and also increased standardized test scores across the board, both at individual schools and district-wide.

“Undoubtedly we know the real credit goes to teachers who embraced changes in math teaching, especially during the most challenging of times as we worked through the pandemic, and to our incredible students who’ve persevered along the way,” Dr. Raitzer said.

Learn more on the latest episode of the podcast, Insight28: Transforming Math Learning

IInsight 28 podcastnsight28 Podcast: Transforming Math Learning

Listen as Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kris Raitzer, Director of Learning Michelle Jackson, Rebecca Stowell, a math interventionist and Nikki Penherski, our junior high instructional coach, explain our change in instructional practice, then listen as we visit some classrooms and talk to students and teachers who are excited about math in Episode 3 of Insight28

Meet the voices of Episode 3: Transforming Math Learning:

From left, Dr. Jason Pearson, Dr. Kris Raitzer, Michelle Jackson, Nikki Penherski, Mary Clair Fuchs and Molly Shiple.


Dr. Jason PearsonDr. Kris RaitzerMichelle  JacksonNikki PenherskiRebecca StowellMary Clair Fuchs

Molly Shiple