The month of April is Mathematics Awareness and Education Month, and I don’t think math education has ever been as important for our students’ success in college, career and life as it is right now. I’m so proud that APS was represented at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ annual conference in Boston. These people are passionate about math, and they will tell you it’s not just about numbers, it’s about problem solving and critical thinking.
This year’s theme is “Math Drives Careers.” That has never been truer than it is today.
Through the course of an APS student’s education, the math curriculum is designed to build upon itself and become more challenging as the child progresses through school. As part of our measurements of success, that student by third grade should be able to multiply and divide with any number up to 100 and work with fractions.
Denise Bringslid, a fourth grade math teacher at Mary Lin Elementary, joined her peers at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference. She finds puzzles and problem-solving motivates her students. Recently, she videotaped the principal asking students for help with a backyard fence he was building for his dog. She played the tape for students at the start of class. In order to solve the principal’s problem students had to apply various skills they had learned about area, perimeter multiplication, division and conversion. “I find they are most engaged when you give them a problem to solve like a puzzle, something that is real and applicable to their lives,” Ms. Bringslid.” She adds that students get additional fulfillment by accomplishing a task for someone else.
By fifth grade, a student should understand place values, use equivalent fractions and relate volume to multiplication and addition.
In eighth grade, a successful math student can work with ratios and proportions, hold a solid understanding of algebraic principles; understand the basics of geometry and apply data and statistics. By the time a student graduates from APS, he or she should have enough knowledge of algebra, geometry, trigonometry and statistics to be successful in college-level mathematics courses.
Dr. Porsha Denson teaches Analytical Geometry Honors and Advanced Algebra Honors courses at Maynard H. Jackson High School. She incorporates a variety of teaching strategies and student learning styles into her instruction. “I instill the passion and motivation for the course content by making the subject matter relevant to the student’s life,” said Dr. Denson.
Her students certainly appreciate her hard work. Their entries led to her winning the 2015 “My Favorite Teacher” Award from the Barnes and Nobles “Prize Patrol.” Dr. Denson stresses, “Math doesn’t have to be difficult; taking the time to practice previous and current concepts will allow you to master understanding.”
It is my hope that every APS student reaches their full potential in math. I want to see our kiddos taking AP Calculus, Statistics and other rigorous courses in high school and excelling not only during Mathematics Awareness and Education Month, but all year long.