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OCSD will host “Common Core Family Math Night”


The Ogdensburg City School district is offering an opportunity for parents who are confused or frustrated over their child’s homework to take part in “Common Core Family Math Night.”

The program, which will be held in the Madill Elementary School Cafeteria March 12, will offer demonstrations to parents on how to teach the Common Core curriculum to their children.

“It’s going to be really designed two parts to each session,” Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Kevin Kendall said Tuesday. “The first part will be an explanation of some of the activities and strategies within that grade level, and then it will transition into practicing those strategies with each other by playing games.”

Math consultant Becky Duprey is facilitating the program, which is designed for students in universal pre-kindergarten to sixth grade students.

Mrs. Duprey, who has served in math education for over 20 years, has previously taught at Heuvelton Central School and is now serving as clinical faculty at SUNY Potsdam.

“A lot of parents can’t help their kids with their homework because they don’t understand the strategies being used in the classroom,” Mrs. Duprey said. “It’s not that the parents don’t know the math; they don’t understand the strategies.”

Each parent will be given a kit to take home that will explain various strategies used in the classroom.

The strategies are taught as a concept-based as opposed to a rule-driven way, Mrs. Duprey said.

“Instead of knowing and doing, they have to understand and explain now,” Lincoln Elementary kindergarten teacher Kimberly Lalone said. “So they are taking a leap from skill and forgetting it move on. This skill will take them through first grade, second grade, all the way throughout elementary school.”

For example, Mrs. Duprey said, students using a number line to solve a problem in kindergarten or first grade, might use numbers up to 20. Once they move into second grade they might number line to solve problems up to 100. Third grade they might use a number line to solve problems that involve fractions.

And the result among students is overwhelming, teachers said.

“What I hear a lot of teachers throughout the county say when we do staff development is, ‘My students are really excited now,’” Mrs. Duprey said. “Students that used to struggle now understand because it is now no longer about memorizing facts. They are really talking about math. It’s no longer about what the answer is; they are talking about the concepts.”

John F. Kennedy Elementary teacher Erin Mousaw said learning under the Common Core standards was a bit of a struggle at first for her fourth-grade students who, after being taught certain methods for several years, suddenly had to learn a new way of thinking.

“But now, within time, they will be able to understand the concepts a little better than they did before,” Ms. Mousaw said.

But the new methods of learning are also more fun for students, she said.

“My students certainly aren’t complaining,” Ms. Mousaw said.

For those parents unable to attend next month’s meeting or who want to learn more, Mr. Kendall said another meeting will be scheduled at the beginning of next year.

John F. Kennedy Principal Susan Jacobs said a combination of a summer math camp offered through the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, training and opportunities for professional development, consultants and grade-level meetings instituted by Mr. Kendall have made teachers more comfortable and prepared for the Common Core roll-out.

The school also has a grant through the BOCES to train 10 district leaders who will be trained in Common Core. Those teachers will then train other teachers in the district.

“For a number of years, our BOCES the focus has been on English language arts and a lot of literacy instruction,” Mrs. Jacobs said. “Now there seems to be a fair shake out of the ELA literacy instruction and delivery as well as now the math piece.”

“Common Core Family Math Night” will be held starting at 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. for parents of UPK students, 6:05 to 7:05 p.m. for first through second grade, 6:40 to 7:40 p.m. for third and fourth grades, and 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. for fifth and sixth grade.

Parents should preregister for the event by calling the school.

Most schools in St. Lawrence County, Mrs. Duprey said, should have already or will be hosting a parent night shortly. Schools interested in this material should contact Mrs. Duprey at

Mrs. Duprey also has a website available for parents and teachers to better understand the teachings to the Common Core at

“There is not much there specifically for parents yet, but more to come,” Mrs. Duprey said. “Parents are free to look at the teacher areas, as there are many math games available.”

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