ElWanda McLaurin, a middle school teacher at Cumberland County Schools (NC), has been named the Open Up Resources Teacher of the Month for October. ElWanda is being recognized for her outstanding work in her classroom and ongoing support of teachers across the country as a member of the Open Up Resources National Professional Learning Community.ElWanda’s work with Open Up Resources 6–8 Math makes her one of the most innovative teachers in the country. The Open Up Resources 6–8 Math curriculum inspires a new way of teaching math by transforming classrooms into hives of activity focusing on discussion, questioning, debate, and the deeper conceptual learning of mathematics that follows.
Patience Allen, a colleague at Cumberland County Schools, nominated ElWanda for 20 reasons! Listed below are just some of the things Patience shared that make ElWanda an excellent teacher and colleague:
- She starts off the year by helping her students set personal goals.
- ElWanda makes anchor charts with the students to reference and hang in her room.
- Every period, students are engaged in rich discourse throughout the lessons using high yield instructional strategies like numbered heads and distributed summarizing.
- Students are constantly in their pairs or groups to learn from each other.
- She keeps a student workbook for herself to 'do the math' before she does it with the students.
- ElWanda uses Open Up everyday utilizing each part of the lesson and the MLRs.
- She displays student work in the classroom.
- ElWanda plans with her colleagues so they can learn from her as she learns from them.
- She is constantly trying to find new strategies and resources to better her craft.
- She is very humble, kind, and thoughtful.
ElWanda shared with us more about the engagement and discourse that she sees in her classroom. She explained, “My favorite thing about the Open Up Resources math curricula is the student discourse that takes place on a daily basis in my classroom. We work hard together to create a positive learning community. I love that the curriculum has built in the routines where students have opportunities to discuss in pairs or with a small group. I also how each lesson builds on the previous to help students build on prior knowledge and to make connections."
And she offered some advice for folks considering implementing Open Up Resources 6–8 Math: “Do it! This curriculum has helped me create an amazing learning environment where students are doing and discussing math. There are many routines that are built within the curriculum to help all students be successful. Each lesson is specifically designed to build on the previous and to continuously make connections with their learning. My students get excited about coming to class because we all work together and learn from one another. Students learn the flow and routines of the lesson, where we can really focus on learning.”
Open Up Resources is a non-profit on a mission to increase equity in education by making excellent, top-rated curricula freely available to districts. Learn more at www.openupresources.org.