Let’s talk Lower School mathematics!

On Wednesday night a group of parents, Lower School math teachers, and Admission staff gathered to engage in some math puzzles and activities and to talk about Waynflete’s elementary school math program.  

Lower School Curriculum Co-Coordinator and 4-5 teacher Kai Bicknell shared a classroom video of a Number Talk, a classroom technique used to build mental math skills, encourage flexible thinking, and develop a better conceptual understanding of the math we do every day. Students demonstrated six different approaches to the computational problem 5 x 19—all without pencil and paper!

Lower School Director Anne Hopkins led a math investigation using one-inch tiles to explore the concepts of area and perimeter. This exercise demonstrated the value of a manipulative when exploring a new concept in order to provide a visual and concrete tool that students can use to explore. This exercise allows for a good amount of differentiation, providing the necessary scaffolding and/or challenge for students as needed.

The highlight of the night occurred in our new Innovation Lab where five eager sixth-grade students had set up a variety of math games and puzzles to explore. They taught their guests how to play games, shared their opinions, and made recommendations for gifts for children and families (click here to view a list of the games).

The parents in the room were eager to hear suggestions from teachers about what they can do at home to support math development and enthusiasm. One great resource is an article by Stanford University professor Jo Boaler: Advice For Parents from Jo Boaler, which provides options on how to support computational fluency beyond flashcards. Also referenced was a podcast Like a Sponge: The M-Word from GreatSchools, which encourages parents to share math problems the same way we share bedtime stories.

It was a fun evening that begs to be repeated!