We have adopted the Exemplars program here in the Kent School District as a supplement to our Everyday Math program. We aligned our Everyday Math lessons with the Essential Learnings for each grade level and then aligned Exemplars to that. Each of our teachers has been given an implementation guide. This guide tells them which lessons in Everyday Math, Problem Solvers, Games and Exemplars to teach during any given month. They can easily cross reference their lessons with the EALRs as well as use it as a guide to their monthly planning.
In order to access specific Exemplars problems for various grade levels we have placed them on an Intranet system by grade and by month. Now all a teacher has to do is open up the Implementation Guide or their grade level, find the month and click on the exact Exemplars task they need to teach. They can print out one copy for themselves or multiple copies for their whole class! We have made using the Exemplars program easy and accessible for the teachers and in turn they are comfortable using it.Barbara Wood, WA
If you walk into a Tacoma classroom during math instruction, you will see kids huddled around an Exemplars task, cooperatively selecting their problem-solving strategy. Rich conversations will follow, in which students will not only defend their solutions, but also get a chance to study alternative strategies unveiled by other groups assigned to solve that very same problem.
In the fall of 1997, Tacoma schools implemented a promotion policy where students in grade 5 are required to demonstrate their proficiency in literacy and mathematical problem solving as a condition for being promoted to the sixth grade. The policy's mathematics component requires students to communicate their thinking as well as work towards an accurate solution to an extended problem. With the increased demand on student performance, it became clear to our personnel that instruction needed to change in order to prepare students for this more rigorous assessment. Yet many staff members lacked training in how to weave problem solving throughout their daily math instruction.
After searching through the myriad of problem-solving materials offered, Exemplars was chosen by Tacoma as one vehicle for helping staff and students move in this new direction.
Knowing the importance of staff development, we offered multiple workshops designed to acquaint the staff with Exemplars and how to teach towards the Exemplars rubric. Sample problems were sent regularly to schools and the Best of Math Exemplars CD-ROM was provided for each of our 46 buildings. We needed to educate the parents as well so we offered workshops around the district to acquaint them with several problem-solving strategies. Ross Brewer flew to Tacoma on two occasions to work with groups of teachers and students as we all struggled to give up some of our tried and true math practices in order to free up time to delve into problem-solving on a more regular basis.Gaye Lantz, Curriculum Coordinator, WA