Grant to add depth to CTE classes

$50K to enable Nashua Technology Center to incorporate math into CTE curriculum

Courtesy photo High school students in the Robotics and Machine Manufacturing CTE programs in Nashua will be able to earn credits for algebra and geometry during 2019-20 academic term.

NASHUA – Starting next year, core math classes such as algebra and geometry will be implemented into certain Career Technical Education programs at Nashua High School North and Nashua High School South, thanks to a grant of about $50,000 and the collaboration on many parts.

Amanda Bastoni serves as the Nashua Technology Center director for the north high school. She said the idea is to study the feasibility of offering math credits in certain CTE classes. Currently, students still need to earn math credits outside their CTE program, but Bastoni said they are considering ways in which the students may collect algebra credits while participating in the robotics program and a geometry credit for the Machine Manufacturing program.

The center will be contracting Mathematics Coach/Consultant and President of New Hampshire Teachers of Mathematics Rob Lukasiak, who will visit the center each week for a semester. He will be working with a team of teachers from both high schools, along with other teachers across the state, Christine Morris of Nashua Community College,

leading math teachers and instructors from other CTE programs.

This group will work to create the curriculum for a one-year Vex Robotics course, allowing students to earn an Algebra 1 credit. This “pilot” program will start during the 2019-20 academic term.

By incorporating algebra into CTE classes, officials said, students will see a different approach to teaching and learning.

“Research tells us students are more likely to understand and remember with a hands-on approach,” Bastoni said.

Still she said, this class isn’t meant to completely replace an algebra or geometry class.

“If math is a big buffet, this would be another meal option,” Bastoni said. “The math teachers already are doing a great job – we just want to create an additional course.”

Bastoni described this implementation as a “game changer” that will benefit many students, rather than only those in the CTE program.

“Now we are talking about really creative innovative ways of teaching math. And it’s not that math teachers weren’t already doing that,” Bastoni said.

CTE has funding behind it so that could bring extra funds into the schools’ core academic needs, Bastoni said.

In New Hampshire, students are required to take four math credits, but one can be a “math experience.” New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said ultimately, those in collaboration are working to improve students’ achievements in math across the state and create an engaging environment.

“Algebra and geometry seem to be two abstract math classes that can be particularly troublesome for some students, so we have been working on trying to create some more engaging kinesthetic approaches in order for students to be able to wrap their heads around it,” Edelblut said.

Edelblut said he is eager to move forward. An advantage that may emerge from this is that by the end of this year, any school will be able to have access to the curriculum – not just the six that are participating in this study. Edelblut said they haven’t discussed how they will make the curriculum public just yet.

Seacoast School of Technology in Exeter is one of the six schools participating in the study.

School Principal Margaret Callahan said her school’s participation opens many more opportunities. The school has 12 CTE programs.

“Students choose to come here because they have the idea that the programs we are offering are a career they are looking toward. Students can do things that are relevant in their lives, and we are able to make that connection for them,” Callahan said.

Callahan said she is excited to be part of this study.

“I really believe that opportunities like these, where students are already taking these classes, where they are already doing so much, is such an incredible opportunity and makes so much sense for students,” she added.

Grace Pecci can be reached at 594-1243 or gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.