OXFORD – The way mathematics is taught at the elementary school level is about to change in Oxford Hills.

The school board approved adopting the Investigations Program for Mathematics, where problem solving is the focus of instruction not the manipulation of numbers.

Allen Gerry, high school mathematics teacher and chairman of the Mathematics Subject Area Committee, is ecstatic about the change in teaching methods.

“This is a big issue,” Gerry said. “From my point of view in the high school, it will be exciting to get kids from this program, if they are taught well.

“They’ll see math as math should be – thinking. Math is thinking,” he said. “From what I’ve seen of the program, it will excite students.”

Gerry said the program was recommended to be used districtwide because there has been positive feedback from teachers, it meets the criteria of the National Council of Teachers in Mathematics and it meets the requirements of Maine Learning Results and indicators.

Maine Learning Results is the level of knowledge the state expects a student to be proficient in.

The district started the Investigation program as a pilot at the Harrison Elementary School and the Guy E. Rowe School in Norway at the beginning of the school year.

Principals at both schools are sold on the program.

“The kids love it, are not afraid of math anymore and realize that there is more than one way to come up with an answer,” Principal George Sincerbeaux of the Rowe school said.

Walter Wallace, Harrison principal, said he knew his school had to improve in the area of math so the district took a look at teaching programs. He said the programs had to be research based on how kids learn math the best.

“There are studies that helped us make our decision,” Wallace said. “The Maine Math and Science Alliance showed that students using the Investigation Program had improved test results.

“The main focus of the program is that not only do kids know how to do basic facts but why they are doing these things. It’s more of a problem solving type of program,” he said. “We’ll be teaching the kids the traditional way of multiplying, dividing and addition and subtraction, but also they can learn to construct their own way of solving a problem and then have a variety of ways to solve a problem.”

Gerry said said it is crucial that the program be taught correctly. He said there are plans for training in the summer.

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