In Louisiana, Event Teaches Parents About Homework Help, Common Core

In Louisiana, the Lafayette Parish school system held a two hour event — the Academic Super Bowl — at the Cajundome Convention Center for families to learn strategies to help their students with their homework. The main aim of the event was to encourage families to assist their children in learning while at work, but the event was also used to better explain the Common Core to parents so that they could know their role in the education of their children as the new standards implement curriculum changes in math and English language arts.

According to the district's federal programs director Latikka Magee, the event was organized to provide resources to families to better support their students' learning at home.

"The Lafayette Parish school system fosters the belief that families are important to their students' success," she said.

To align with the Common Core State Standards, the outreach is timely as the school system, like others across the state, has implemented curriculum changes in math and English language arts. To set uniform learning expectations at each grade level, Louisiana is one of 45 states that have adopted the new standards as part of a national initiative.

Marsha Sills of The Advocate reports that teachers and district curriculum specialists provided adults with practice lessons on concepts students are learning in the classroom. Teachers said that some of the concepts, particularly in math, may be foreign to most parents, but things such as tape diagrams or number bonds are helping students build a solid foundation in math.

"It's more about teaching students what the concept means rather than teaching them to memorize the process," said Penny Gennuso, district math and science specialist.

Parents were shown an exercise on number bonds by Miko McDaniel, an elementary math coach. Students are now being taught to break down the numbers using a number bond while parents may have learned to carry numbers when subtracting or adding.

"It seems like a lot of extra steps when they're little, but when they're older it will make it easier for them to understand other concepts," she told parents.

Teachers illustrated the concept using three small plastic hoops placed on the floor in a pyramid shape and bean bags at the kindergarten booth. To equal the number in the top hoop, young students distributed bean bags into the lower two hoops.

"Understanding number bonds leads to them understanding positive and negative numbers as they get older," McDaniel said. "It's all about teaching them strategies and ways to think through problems."

As Marsha Sills of The Advocate reports, one mother, Tabatha Guidry, said, learning more about Common Core attracted her family to the event. Her husband echoed those words.

"We're all learning together," Johnny Guidry said. "We want to be able to help them, so we need to understand what they're learning in school."

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