After earning my Master’s in Instructional Leadership in Mathematics, I was thrilled to join the team at John Dibert Community School. And since 2010, I have been helping to develop a math program and culture grounded in conceptual math. Today, our school is now implementing a blended learning math environment, which includes MIND Research Institute’s visually-based ST Math software.
ST Math impacted our school and students by helping them engage and enjoy math instruction. Daily, each teacher spends 45 minutes leading instruction and 45 minutes of computer lab time with students. During class time teachers and students work through a cycle of review and explorations while using technology in math class allows students to engage with ST Math and participate in small group interventions as needed.
Making the Connection Between JiJi & Classroom Math Lessons
We’re seeing an increasing amount of teachers using ST Math to inform their classroom instruction. This has helped build connections between the ST Math program and classroom concepts which overall will improve student performance. In fact, one of our third grade teachers has regular small group demos and problem-solving sessions using ST Math and having students work collaboratively.
While I no longer spend my full day in the classroom, when I was teaching fifth grade I noticed a few things while using ST Math. Though my students developed excellent number sense, they didn’t always make explicit connections between “JiJi” and what they were working on in class. In order to overcome this disconnect I would project ST Math and talk explicitly about connecting math concepts they learned with JiJi to classroom lessons and homework.
Involving Parents: Developing Math Culture Beyond the Classroom
JiJi the math penguin has truly helped increase the love of math in our classrooms. In fact the students enjoy JiJi so much that earlier this year we hosted an ST Math party. During the party families enjoyed frozen treats and awards for students with over 80% fluency or 15% syllabus progress. Awards included arctic beanie babies, snowflake pencils, sunglasses and more. Our teachers get really into these parties and know how much the students enjoy them, so one of our teachers bought dry ice to try and make the cafeteria look foggy and arctic.
We also held a math night, where we explained to parents what ST Math is, how it works, why we think it’s been successful and also that it has content for all grade levels at our school. Parents were excited to hear that students who master most of the curriculum do really well in math and on state tests, though I don't really like to use that as a lever because to me it's not just about the test… It’s also about the love of learning math!
This month we’re busily planning for a Hot Hot Hot Party that kids making over 20% syllabus progress will be invited to attend. We’ll have hot fries, hot wings, spicy pickles and other “hot foods”. Our students are super excited and it gets them even more anxious and eager to keep learning.