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Clairton Elementary math program develops skills

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Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Clairton fifth-graders Tehiran McDougald and Kamiya Walters serve slices of homemade cookie cake during a math lesson on scaling recipe measurements.
By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 2:21 a.m.

Clairton Elementary students are immersed in a new mathematics curriculum that challenges their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms are following Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's “Go Math!” program.

Aligned with Common Core standards for mathematics, “Go Math!” is intended to meet the objectives outlined by state and federal departments of education.

“We are working every day to teach students how math impacts their daily lives,” fifth-grade teacher Wendy Blotzer said. “This isn't just problem solving on a piece of paper. We are dealing with manipulatives in real-life situations.”

Blotzer's class recently hosted chef Anthony Ellis, who used recipe-writing techniques to illustrate measurement and scaling. Students were asked to increase and decrease recipes to make treats for their classmates.

In a lesson on multiplying fractions by whole numbers, Blotzer explained, students are engaged in a process rather than memorization.

A math teacher for 20 years, Blotzer has noticed changes in educational trends.

“We are going from the original reading, writing and arithmetic to analyzation,” she said.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or

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