LAFAYETTE — Lafayette Parish School System students became teachers Monday night as they shared what they’ve been learning in class with parents during the districtwide Academic Super Bowl at the Cajundome Convention Center.
Second-graders showed how to “decompose numbers” to easily break them down into tens and quickly solve math problems, while sixth- and seventh-graders used tape diagrams to solve word problems in a flash.
“You can decompose 48 into 40 and 8,” Broadmoor Elementary second-grader Gerald Singleton explained as he demonstrated how to solve 48+6 without “carrying numbers” as most adults, including his mother, Jada Singleton, were taught. His mother is a math coach for the school district.
“Breaking the numbers apart into base tens makes it easier for them to do the problem mentally,” Jada Singleton said. “As early as kindergarten, they’re now learning to break apart a 10, and they’ll continue to apply that strategy.”
Now in its second year, “Academic Super Bowl II: We’re in It to Win It!” was a family-focused event designed to inform parents about what students are learning in the classroom and provide resources for them to reinforce that learning at home.
Regina Woods recently moved her family to Lafayette from Alabama and had questions about how to help her son, a fourth-grader at Prairie Elementary, improve his reading comprehension. At the English language arts booth geared toward third- through fifth-graders, Woods stopped to chat with Ridge Elementary third-grade teacher Shawna Snyder.
“Instead of waiting until the end of the book, ask him questions as he reads parts of the book,” Snyder advised as Woods wrote down notes in a small notebook.
Snyder told Woods to ask her son questions about the characters, what problems the characters face in the story and if the problems change. She also encouraged the mother to let her son pick out books that interest him to spark a love of reading in him.
The school system launched the event last year as it — like other school districts across the state — transitioned to Common Core State Standards, new learning benchmarks adopted in more than 40 states. The Common Core State Standards are new learning standards for students in math, reading and writing. The learning shift focuses more on critical thinking skills.
In English, there’s more of a focus on nonfiction texts and students using the text to cite and support their answers. In math, there’s a focus on learning concepts and how to solve problems, rather than learning rote equations and methods.
There’s been pushback over the implementation of the standards and the nationally standardized test that accompanies them, with critics citing concerns about curriculum changes and federal intrusion. Supporters credit Common Core for raising learning expectations and say more rigorous standards are needed to ensure students are prepared for life after school — whether it’s college or a job.
“With the changes that have taken place, I’m hoping to get some resources to help them with subjects,” said Pam Olivier, whose 12-year-old twin boys, Jamal and Jayden, attend Milton Middle.
Olivier home-schooled the boys for the fifth and sixth grades and decided to enroll them in public school for the seventh grade to help them transition into public high school.
Jayden said he finds math is easier, but the steps are longer.
“I’m the math guy. He’s the English guy,” Jayden said, pointing to his brother Jamal, who’s a fan of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book series.
During the event, parents also could receive information about other student services available through the school system, including health and child nutrition services, foreign language immersion learning and adult education classes for those who want to complete their high school education.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.