Two Middle School math classrooms have undergone major renovations this fall that will enable students to engage more deeply with math.
The two classrooms, on the ground floor of School House below Brown Hall, have been redesigned to help students learn in a better way.
“Math is one of the subjects where the way children learn is changing. There’s a lot more movement, interaction and group work,” says Mrs. Dariol Haydock, Assistant Director of the Middle School.
The furniture in the classrooms is new – new chairs and new desks – and it’s all flexible, movable and stackable. Whiteboards cover a lot of the wall space in the rooms, there are cork boards for math teachers to display student work, and there are couches and work stations in the hallway outside the classrooms where students can work.
“One of the key features that we wanted was flexible furniture so that we could configure the room in different ways depending on the task. The furniture also allows the students to move around more and gives them a variety of work spaces to meet different student needs,” says Julie Harris, Program Specialist and math teacher. “The whiteboards on the walls are another important feature so students can engage in collaborative problem solving and make their learning visible to the teacher. The teacher can see their thinking and see their processes and ask questions to support or extend the learning where needed.”
Communicating thinking and making learning visible is essential in math. It allows the teacher to assess how well a student understands the math, but it also allows students to share different strategies with one another.
“Of course, there is independent work and direct instruction in math class, too. But students are energized when they can work with each other and will engage in more challenging problems together as a result,” says Julie. “There’s a lot of research that shows that when students reason with their peers and work together to figure things out, it deepens their learning.”
Both Julie and Dariol say they are excited to see students start using these rooms once the renovations are complete early next week.
“I’m excited for the students to be to able to work in a space like this because it will be reflective of what kids at this age need and how they need to move,” Dariol says. “It will make math feel more alive for the teachers and the students.”