Problem of the Month
St. Justin School prides itself on differentiating math instruction in order to include all students in the process of learning. The school recently completed the ”Problem of the Month”, promoted by the Silicon Valley Math Initiative, which encourages problem solving throughout all grade levels including Kindergarten. This school-wide event provided the framework for students to delve deeper into mathematical complexities. The task was divided into five levels, each one building on the next. Students picked apart the problem by reading, planning, solving, checking and writing down their solutions. Children were asked to explain their thinking process; this required them to clearly organize their thoughts. During math time students were encouraged to discuss ideas, and use manipulatives, enabling them to support their rationale. Elizabeth Bennett, Math Coordinator, and Junior High Teacher at St. Justin School states, “Having the students write an explanation and justify their math processes helps them clarify their understanding of the problems and strategies needed for success.” The writing piece is critical because it allows each student to make connections based on their own analysis of events.
Education has come a long way from the “one size fits all” model. Gone are the days where teachers actively instruct while students passively listen. St. Justin School is committed to recognizing differences by methodically modifying and planning lessons that will engage each child’s learning style. The “Problem of the Month”, led by the faculty at St. Justin School, provides an opportunity for students to have fun while solving problems in math.