A3 is excited to announce that we are continuing to offer Project Math for the 2016-2017 school year. We’re reinvigorating math by emphasizing the teaching principles that we most value at A3: project based learning and our school-wide learning process: EDCRO. Project Math will integrate mathematical thinking with real-world problem solving.
The sections are team taught to ensure that we have as low a student-to teacher ratio as possible. Project Math is taught in multi-age classrooms because we don’t believe in defining a student’s abilities by how old they are.
Visual and Hands-on Math Improves Math Performance
In a ground breaking new study Joonkoo Park & Elizabeth Brannon (2013), found that the most powerful learning occurs when we use different areas of the brain. When students work with symbols, such as numbers, they are using a different area of the brain than when they work with visual and spatial information, such as an array of dots.
The researchers found that mathematics learning and performance was optimized when the two areas of the brain were communicating (Park & Brannon, 2013). Additionally, they found that training students through visual representations improved students’ math performance significantly, even on numerical math, and that the visual training helped students more than numerical training.
-Jo Boaler, Stanford University
Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going
Despite our best efforts, A3’s math performance has paralleled district and state the state math test, sometimes slightly above, sometimes slightly below, but never fully achieving our goal for mathematical excellence.
We believe that every kid can and should learn how to think mathematically and the state now requires that every student demonstrate proficiency in math to graduate (either by passing the common core math test or through work samples) so it’s very important that we get this right.
The Integrated Project-Based Math
This class is designed as a three-year program (to be completed Freshman through Junior year) and awards Integrated Math credit. The course topics are clearly aligned with the Common Core Math Standards, covering algebra, geometry, and statistics. As part of the program, students will complete 18 engaging math projects over three years that teach mathematical concepts by applying them to real-life situations such as building chicken coops, learning about earthquakes, and examining the statistics of social justice. Upon completing the three-year track, students will have the three years of math credit required to graduate high school and attend Oregon public universities.
Currently, if a student doesn’t pass the common core math test their junior year, they must demonstrate proficiency through math work samples their senior year.
Practically speaking, this means that they need to use an elective class slots their senior year to take “senior math” where they complete the work samples.
Game on: Every Student a MATH Learner, Leader, and Teacher
In 2014, over two-thirds of Oregon juniors that took the common core math test didn’t pass. This created a clear incentive to change for our math team. Our new project-based math program offers numerous opportunities for students to complete work samples that relate to the math projects they are doing, ensuring that all students can meet the state math requirements regardless of whether they pass the Smarter Balanced Exam.
We believe that our new program will offer clear advantages over a traditional math track for both struggling and accelerated math students. All students will benefit from a less abstract and more practical approach. By connecting math concepts to real-world problems we will help students see the relevance of skills that they are learning and make the concepts more memorable. For students who would like to take an additional math class, we will still maintain our College Now: Math 95 class (prerequisite and springboard to college level math). Math 95 will be offered as a 2 block class during the first semester of 2016-17.
The first half of A3 Math 95 is focused on the hard algorithmic algebraic and trigonometric skills that kids will need for the advanced math in the second half of the course. Math 95 is available to any of our students when they believe that they are ready for the challenge. The class serves as a true bridge to college level math classes.
A3 is deeply committed to the idea that all students can learn math and can successfully pass their high school math graduation requirements. We’ve seen the power of project-based learning to motivate and engage students and we’re really excited to leverage these advantages to achieve our goals with math.
Here is our Integrated Math Calendar for 2015-2016
Download our Newsletter, Project Math Unveiled, to learn more
If you have further questions please contact one of the leads of the project math team.