Math and Literacy in Menomonie

Math and Literacy in Menomonie
Posted on 09/18/2015

Over the past several months, teachers and administrators have worked together to define a clear vision for math and literacy in the School District of the Menomonie Area.  While recent debates across the country often include rhetoric focused on school accountability, standardized assessments, and the common core standards, how many people actually have a clear understanding of what we are trying to teach our children?  In the SDMA, we have worked hard to summarize the answer to this question in clear terms so that our school district’s focus for both math and literacy can be a vision shared by parents, educators, students, and community members.

In the area of math, the three main pillars of what we are teaching our students in grades K-12 include Procedural Skills and Fluency, Conceptual Understanding, and Real World Applications. In addition to teaching students basic math facts and calculations, instruction now includes a greater emphasis on applying those skills and gaining a better understanding of numerical relationships. This is a bit of a shift from traditional math instruction that used to have a greater emphasis on facts and calculations, with less focus on conceptual understanding and application. Our school district has already made a lot of progress in this area and, this year, teachers in our elementary schools are using a new curriculum resource that provides for more rigor and greater consistency in all classrooms across the school district.

What does it mean for students in the Menomonie Area to be literate? The main pillars of literacy in our school district include Reading, Writing, Word Study (spelling, vocabulary, etc.), as well as Listening and Speaking. Like math, our teachers not only help our students learn the basic mechanics of reading, writing, listening, and speaking, but they also emphasize the importance of applying these skills to real world situations.  Instead of a more traditional approach of teaching these skills primarily in separate, somewhat isolated lessons, current practices spiral literacy learning opportunities across curricular areas, while using resources relevant to student interests.

With only a finite amount of instructional time and other resources, we need to make a conscious decision for what our students will need to best prepare them for their futures. In both literacy and math, it is important that we understand the importance of teaching our children skills for critical thinking and effectively applying the basic mechanics.  

Learning basic skills is still as important as it ever has been, but continued advances in technology and the continued evolution of our society has reduced the emphasis that we have for some skills (ie. spending weeks practicing long division algorithms) and has now placed a higher priority on reasoning and application.

Should school stakeholders have any questions, concerns, or suggestions regarding math and literacy instruction in our school district, I invite you to visit the Administrative Service Center on Pine Avenue or contact me at 715-232-1642.  More information about our schools can be found on the school district website ( and on Twitter (

Acknowledgement: Much of the work on the vision for math and literacy for the School District of the Menomonie Area was completed by SDMA Director of Instruction Brian Seguin, SDMA Math Coach Michelle Dupree, and SDMA Literacy Coach Tera Ellison.

The graphic below demonstrates the math and literacy visions in the SDMA.