Implementation must be with Fidelity

Implementing a program with fidelity means the program is being used the way it was intended to be used. After much research and the release of NCTM’s Focal points, Dr. Larson decided to write a program that addressed the focal points. Those focal points organized the math curriculum into clear and concise concepts with an emphasis on the process standards. When curriculum is organized in this manner, it assumes the learning of mathematics is cumulative, where students will continuously review and use previously taught concepts. With that in mind, Big Ideas Math incorporated at least two years of previous standards into each chapter of lessons.

NCTM clearly states, “Review is not Reteach”. However, many teachers out of valid concern re-teach full lessons rather than continuously incorporating previous skills on a daily basis. This can be difficult at first since it is part of the paradigm shift needed to implement with fidelity.

Fidelity is important since research tells us that the way a program is implemented influences how effective the outcome. Once a program of instruction has been modified, we don’t know how the program will work or what could be the consequences. In short, changing program elements = lack of fidelity.

Again, Big Ideas Learning is committed to assisting you as you transition into these new standards. Please feel free to contact our Math Specialist, Lisa Goldsmith, with any questions. She can be reached at (814)-449-3668 or via email at You can also chat with her free via Skype at Lisa.Goldsmith4.

Professional Development Despite the Obstacles

Education in the United States has been affected by budgetary cuts. Yet, continuous education and professional development for teachers still needs to be available. This is important as math standards are changed in states and new programs are implemented.

At times, trying to schedule training can also be difficult. Finding a time when all teachers are available and then a location sometimes can be tricky.

Skype is a free download that allows you to instant message, audio chat, and/or video chat with someone. Lisa Goldsmith, Math Specialist, can be reached via Skype at Lisa.Goldsmith4. This is a great way for teachers to reach her on their planning hour, before or after school, or during a department meeting. She can even facilitate a training this way.

Graphic Organizers

A graphic organizer is a visual  display of the relationships between mathematical facts, terms, and ideas. Graphic organizers are also sometimes referred to as concept maps,  advance organizers, or concept diagrams. Some types of graphic organizers are Venn Diagrams, Webs, Y Chart, Information Frames, and Formula Triangles. Graphic organizers are a great way to study for quizzes and tests. You can find graphic organizers throughout the entire Big Ideas Program and under the teacher and/or student tab of the website.

Teaching Using Research-Based Strategies

Studies show that an individual teacher can have a powerful effect on student achievement. Research was conducted by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL). One of the primary goals of the study was “to identify those instructional strategies that have a high probability of enhancing student achievement for all students in all subject areas”. Robert Marzano, Debra Pickering and Jane Pollock present the findings of this research and the nine researched-based strategies that were outlined, in their book Classroom Instruction that Works.

Dr. Larson and Dr. Boswell studied the research done by McRel and others and have included in the Big Ideas Math series instructional techniques that are backed by research. That is not enough, though. School districts, schools, and teachers need a desire to change the way they teach and to make a firm commitment to see that change happen.
Over the next several months we will look at individual strategies and see how they are being used in classrooms across the county.