Teaching Math at Clarion
What is the Clarion approach to math?
Our students are learning math from the inside out, building foundations and concepts rather than memorizing facts. Teachers at Clarion spend the early years helping children develop a number sense and a love of math. They guide the students through the process of asking questions and exploring the possibilities rather than quickly identifying the correct answer. Without quizzes to demonstrate speed and accuracy in computation, parents may be concerned that students are falling behind. In fact, building this deep understanding provides children with the skills they need to be mathematical problem-solvers.
How do teachers know if a child understands the material?
Teachers engage in discussions with the entire class during math lessons. The lessons are structured to scaffold student learning and allow for exploration of materials and concepts. The emphasis is not on getting the correct answer, but on the process and reasoning students use to show their mathematical thinking. Teachers assess students by looking at their strategies and application of skills. For example, when exploring multiplication, students learn first about things that come in groups and practice different ways to represent this concept. They tackle problems of multiplication using words and drawings long before they start memorizing facts. This way, teachers can see if they understand what multiplication means, and students develop the confidence that allows them to tackle sophisticated problems based on what they already know.
What does this mean for our students as they move forward in math?
By developing confident math students with a solid conceptual understanding, Clarion is setting students up for success in math and other areas of logical reasoning. If a child sees a problem and does not know the answer or even the fastest way to approach it, but has tools to use to break it down and make sense of it, she will rise to the challenge. When children believe they can grow and learn, that being good at math is not a fixed skill, they take the time to explore and make meaning. With each experience in this problem-solving process, children become more confident in their ability and nimble in how they access and apply their skills to new situations. When they see a challenging problem they become curious, and instead of saying, “I can’t,” they say, “I’ll try.”