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How Students Lead the Way in Math

Updated: Jan 30

At BHS, we believe every student can succeed in math. In recent years, we adopted innovative approaches to help bring out that potential in our students with a collaborative effort led by educational consultant Kristin Hilty. Ms. Hilty visits our campus regularly and works with BHS teachers to strengthen and develop our math curriculum. She recently spent two days focusing on the Illustrative Math program we adopted last year and helped teachers find new and effective strategies to engage their students in math class.

Our approach to math teaching focuses on building numbers sense and flexibility. Instead of sticking to one method, students learn various ways to tackle problems. We establish the foundations in grades K-5 where students learn to break down numbers and handle increasingly more complex math challenges as they move into middle school and higher.

During the sessions Ms. Hilty works with teachers on math instruction by observing classroom interactions and giving them specific feedback. She highlights the importance of flexible thinking in students and shares alternative ways to pose math questions. This helps both students and teachers to explore different ways to think about a math problem.

This year, the sessions also focused on encouraging active math discussions in classrooms, making sure students do more of the talking. Teachers have been refining their questions to spark conversations among students, creating a more student-led learning environment.

The strength of the Illustrative Math curriculum, Ms. Hilty explains, lies in its emphasis on these very conversations about math and also the use of visual models. The program encourages students to visualize math using real-world examples. For instance, instead of just solving 4 times ⅔, students might think about the problem as 4 friends sharing a certain amount of candy bars. This type of approach helps them understand the 'why' behind the math, not just the 'how.'

Charlene Jovel, BHS's Math Coordinator, plays a pivotal role in our math professional development, supporting teachers and students, especially in grade levels 4-6. She collaborates with Ms. Hilty, acting as a daily presence in classrooms so that teachers continue to receive consistent support throughout the year.

Our educators also see parents as key partners in engaging students in math. We regularly host interactive parent and student nights led by Ms. Hilty that bring families and teachers together, and let parents join their children in math activities. This spring, we will be offering opportunities for parents to visit their child’s class and see them in action. Students will host stations to show parents how they solve problems. The goal is for parents to not only see their own child’s progress, but also hear from other students and have the opportunity to visit the next grade so they can see what to expect. These in-person experiences are aimed at strengthening the partnership between parents and our educators.

At BHS, we know that success in math, as in all learning, is achieved with flexible thinking, student-led discussions, and a curriculum that makes learning enjoyable and understandable. We thank you for engaging in our collaborative efforts as we continue to work towards providing a well-rounded and effective education for our students.


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