Grant School takes new approach to teaching math
Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 10:21 a.m.
Are you smarter than a sixth grader? A third grader? A kindergartner?
Could you solve this problem?
“Tex gets a 10x30 section of sod for $200. He then buys a section of sod four times that size and sends in a $400 check. How much does he still owe?”
You must not only give the correct answer, but must also explain how you arrived at the conclusion.
This particular math problem is just level three of five levels students at Grant Elementary School tried to solve last month in the latest is a series of Problem of the Month exercises designed to help them better prepare for California's Common Core Standards on which statewide testing will be based by the 2014-2015 school year. Common Core Standards emphasize an analytical approach to testing as opposed to simply supplying the right answer to multiple choice questions.
To help students get ready for the change, Grant School is using the Noyce Foundation's Problem of the Month program. Students in every grade level are given a problem based on a common theme, starting with a problem suitable for kindergartners (level 1) and working up to problems that challenge the most gifted sixth graders (level 5).
“It gets the kids motivated about math,” explained Grant School Principal Catina Haugen. “It creates some exciting conversations about math throughout the whole school. Even a kindergartner can figure out level 1, but even I have a tough time with level 5.”
Last month's problems revolved around the theme “Surrounded and Covered.” They were all about perimeters and areas, creating some interesting and complicated dilemmas.
In conjunction with the Problem of the Month, all students participate in a Walk & Math morning where each class spends a period in the school multiuse room looking at student solutions to the problems and participating in age-appropriate, hands-on problem solving.
In the most recent session, younger students used cutouts in various shapes to count perimeter lines and area squares. Others fit different colored puzzle pieces into an overall perimeter, while others used different shaped and colored blocks to create any imaginable shape.
A special aspect of the Walk & Math Morning was pairing younger students with older “buddies” to help explain the math concepts and what to do at each station to their young friends.
“Surrounded and Covered” is the third problem Grant students have worked on, and Haugen says they are beginning to catch on. “Every time they have done it, their work gets more visual and complete,” she said.
Students are allowed to rate the program and can leave anonymous comments.
(Contact John Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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