A Story of Units

Beginning in Fall 2013, all elementary classrooms are piloting A Story of Units, a new curriculum aligned to teaching the Common Core progression of mathematical standards and practice developed by EngageNY. Each elementary school has a math teacher leader and there are district-wide math coaches (teachers) who have become specialists in the new curriculum.  It is their job to support teachers in the transition to this new, internationally benchmarked curriculum.

The new curriculum is called A Story of Units because through the standards it tells the unfolding story of mathematics.  The engaging story is about the creation, manipulation, and relationship between units, the basic building blocks of arithmetic.

These bullet points should answer some initial questions during the 2013-14 transition to the Common Core and this new math curriculum.

  • A Story of Units is based on the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  There are fewer standards in each grade, and each standard is taught with more depth than we have been able to achieve in the past.  Students will be studying fewer topics, but for longer periods of time, to truly build a foundation of mathematical knowledge throughout their elementary years.
  • The standards are more rigorous, so we expect students to struggle a bit more at the beginning of a topic, and especially with a new curriculum and some new vocabulary and mathematical practices.  Keep in mind that these things are new for teachers too, so we are all currently learning this together.  Students will be able to return to these topics enough times so that we are confident that they will be mastering these important math concepts as the year progresses.
  • Homework can be stressful!  We encourage students to give homework their best effort but certainly not to reach frustration level.  Homework is often the “face” of any new program from a family’s point of view, but please be assured that teachers have multiple ways of checking for understanding and student progress in class.
  • Almost 200 elementary teachers attended A Story of Units professional development workshop to learn the new math standards and how best to use the curriculum before the start of school in August 2013.  Teacher workshops and collaboration time are on-going as the new curriculum is implemented district-wide.

In addition, Berkeley Unified’s K-5 Math Coaches and our Family Engagement and Equity Department are working to reach out to families.  They plan to provide further help in understanding both the CCSS and A Story of Units, as well as suggest some best practices for how to help your student at home. Parent workshops will be scheduled soon.

For more information about A Story of Units curriculum and what your child is learning in each module, you can access the Family Letters on the Common Core Math page.