, historically, has not been a word associated with math classes. What many remember from their own math classes is that there is one answer and one approach, and if you did not get it quickly, you were not considered to be “good” at mathematics. Learn a procedure, practice the procedure, take a test on the procedure. Rinse and repeat!
While that may not have been everyone’s experience, it was a common approach to math instruction and was particularly unsuccessful for students with learning disabilities. Conversely, at Churchill, our math classes are grounded in the idea of flexibility so we can meet our students where they are and support them as they progress. Flexibility plays out in several different ways across the Kindergarten through 8th grade years.
Flexibility in content
At Churchill we recognize that our students have a variety of needs so they are continually assessed to determine their readiness and placed at appropriate curriculum levels. This may not always align with their grade level, but allows them to develop critical foundational skills that will support future success. Additionally, we have the flexibility to prioritize certain content strands, as opposed to covering them all, while still ensuring preparation for future math classes, both in and outside of the Churchill walls.
Flexibility in pacing
Our teachers understand the need to chunk math content into smaller sections and provide ample opportunity for our students to practice, receive feedback, and then apply the skills and concepts they’ve learned. This means we often spend more time than typically expected studying a unit. At Churchill, we monitor the content students learn from year to year and adjust appropriately to differentiate and provide support or enrichment where necessary.
Flexibility in approach
Churchill teachers are gifted and creative educators who will find any approach that will support our students’ learning. Our curriculum is based on the Singapore Approach; all new concepts are introduced with concrete manipulatives so students can develop pictorial representations before tackling the concept with abstract numerals and symbols. Beyond that, our teachers use graphic organizers, sequencing frames, songs, mnemonics, purposeful highlighting and many other strategies to ensure our students have access to the math content.
Flexibility in product
To assess student understanding and provide support towards future progress, we have become adept at finding unique ways for students to show what they know. Students can produce both traditional and nontraditional algorithmic solutions that are mathematically sound. They can display their understanding with pictures and models or manipulatives, too. Additionally, our low student to teacher ratio allows for ample opportunity for 1:1 check-ins and conferences to assess student learning.
By anchoring our work in the idea of flexibility, Churchill provides a math experience that is safe and understanding, while motivating students to view themselves as mathematicians who can take on any challenge.