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Calhoun, DDE math students in state spotlight

Della Davidson Elementary School’s fourth-graders are in the spotlight statewide.

The school recently was selected to be part of the Mississippi Department of Education’s monthly school spotlight videos for excellence.

Della Davidson teacher Patches Calhoun was chosen to do a video highlighting her fourth-grade math students because of their exceptional adaption to state standards.

“The fourth grade math team at Della has really embraced the new standards,” Calhoun said. “We’ve completely changed the way we present the information to the students.”

Calhoun said teachers at Della Davidson have been very fortunate to have team members go through training provided by the University of Mississippi’s Math and Science Center. The training not only helped teachers better understand the standards, but it also helped showcase the importance for lessons to include the Mathematical Practice Standards.

The standards for students have been gradually transitioning in the past year to accommodate national standards. They focus on emphasizing critical-thinking, teamwork and problem-solving skills.

“The standards require the students to really understand the math they are doing. Before, students were just learning processes, tricks, steps to complete math problems with very little understanding,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun said now the students have to be able to explain why they do something and then justify their reasoning to classmates while analyzing each others’ work.

The students discover different ways to solve problems, they make generalizations about things they notice and patterns they see while doing the math.

Calhoun said the students have very rich conversations about the math daily.

Calhoun and others from Della Davidson can be viewed teaching children in the MDE’s “Math in Action” spotlight video on YouTube.com.

Communications Specialist Jean Gordon Cook said the MDE started producing “Mississippi School Spotlight” videos to share success stories about particular school that have excelled as well as the Mississippi Board of Education and members of the public.

“The videos are intended to shine a light on the great work that goes on in Mississippi’s public schools every day,” Cook said. “We hope the videos will raise awareness about how higher expectations lead to higher academic achievement.”

She said the first video produced was earlier this year in April. The video shows how a literacy coach helped improve instruction and class performance at a school in Natchez. Six videos have been produced so far and the MDE intends to continue producing videos on a monthly basis.

“Where before we had too many standards to focus on now our standards have been streamlined,” said Della Davidson Principal LaTonya Robinson said. “Teachers are now focused on mastery.”