A New Approach to Teaching Math
At Atlas, our goal is for all young learners to develop a strong foundation in math and become great critical thinkers and problem solvers, just like mathematicians! Students at Atlas engage in authentic, hands-on learning experiences taught by certified math teachers.
By utilizing a co-teaching model, with teaching assistants who support in math class daily, our teachers are able to provide personalized instruction to meet each child’s unique learning needs and push them to grow and develop as learners.
We know that all children have strengths and areas for growth. Unfortunately, far too many students believe they are not good at math. This is a narrative we want to rewrite. Students’ earliest experiences in math help to develop positive attitudes about learning. Our team is committed to creating positive learning experiences for our students. Those experiences coupled with a strong foundation in Counting, Operations, Geometry, and Measurement, will set our students on a path for success in middle school, high school, and beyond. Most importantly, it will foster a lifelong love of learning and discovery.
At Atlas, we are utilizing the Bridges in Mathematics curriculum. This curriculum is rigorous and based on proven best practices. Our math program is made up of two distinct learning blocks:
Number Corner and Math Lessons
Number Corner is a daily skill-building program that is incorporated into our 8:10-8:40 morning meeting and is co-taught by the homeroom and assistant teacher. Number Corner revolves around the classroom calendar, providing daily practice designed to introduce, reinforce, and extend skills and concepts related to the critical areas of study at each grade level. There are five distinct components that make up Number Corner.
- Calendar Grid: Algebraic patterns and structures that introduce and reinforce a variety of key number and geometry skills
- Calendar Collector: Collections that promote deep understandings or estimation and counting, value, measurement, and data
- Days in School: Activities and routines that capitalize on the number of days students have been in school
- Computational Fluency: Activities, games, and practice pages designed to develop and maintain fluency
- Number Line: Activities that promote counting skills and number sense
At Atlas, we want Number Corner to be a fun and joyful part of the students’ day. Since it takes place in the morning, it’s important that students feel welcome and that everyone has an opportunity to actively participate through movement, working with math materials, choral response, or sharing ideas with classmates. All the activities that students will participate in during Number Corner incorporates discussion, demonstration, games, and opportunity for students to practice independently.
Math Lessons is a 60-minute instructional block that takes place daily and is co-taught by the grade-level math teacher and the students’ homeroom assistant teacher. During this block, we focus on developing students’ deep understanding of mathematical concepts, proficiency with key skills, and ability to solve complex and novel problems. This instructional block features a combination of whole-group, small-group, and independent activities that are problem centers. Students engage in three major kinds of activities: Problems and Investigations, Work Places, and Checks for Understanding.
- Problems and Investigations are whole-group activities that also incorporate periods of independent and partner work. They often begin with a problem posed by the teacher, followed by time for students to think independently, work for a period of time, and talk in pairs before reconvening to share and compare strategies and solutions as a whole class.
- Work Places are engaging, developmentally appropriate math stations that offer ongoing practice with key skills. Many Work Places are partner games, but some are independent activities or more open-ended partner work. Work Places are always introduced and practiced as a whole class, after which students have opportunities to repeat the Work Place over a period of weeks. During this time, Atlas math teachers work hard to provide differentiated activities to address students’ needs for additional support or challenge.
- Checks for Understanding during math, especially in our K-2 classrooms, are administered, in whole or in part, as one-on-one interviews with the teacher and student. At times, the teacher administers assessments in small groups or as a whole class, with the teacher reading the prompts aloud and then allowing time for students to respond in writing. There are many opportunities, especially during Work Places, for teachers to make observational assessments of students and adjust the activity immediately based upon those observations.
On top of all of this, Atlas students have the opportunity to participate in Lab for 90 minutes at the end of every day. Lab is a hands-on experience that brings learning together across all subjects. Students make real world connections and apply their knowledge to authentic projects that are meaningful to them. This is also a time where we are able to provide targeted intervention and enrichment instruction in a fun and engaging manner.