Sixth graders have been studying data analysis and statistics. A portion of the lesson relates to measures of center, which are mode, median and mean. To help make these concepts real to her students, Mrs. Kesler took her students outside to gather “real” data.
“Our small class sizes allow for a lot of collaboration between students,” says Mrs. Kesler, an Upper School math teacher. “This leads to higher levels of student engagement in the classroom. They are learning from each other, which provides a whole deeper level of immersion and understanding. They begin to share problem-solving strategies and might approach questions from a different perspective. Regardless of how challenging a math activity is, if you are able to get the peer-to-peer element going in the classroom, the engagement goes through the ceiling.”
This specific activity also encourages students to participate in their learning. “It is active, not passive,” continues Mrs. Kesler. “I could have handed them 100 data points to use in the classroom, but the active notion of going outside and creating their own measurements by playing cornhole adds to the experience. It gives them ownership of a part of the activity that makes it personal.”
And don’t discount the idea that the activity is fun.
“There is often a stigma in adult’s minds that tells us that math and fun don’t equate for middle school students. This particular activity encourages students to be engaged and to be challenged – and enjoy it!”
At the end of the unit, Mrs. Kesler incorporated technology through representing and interpreting data using spreadsheets and graphs on their Chromebooks.
In the most recent graduate survey, 94% of Powhatan School graduates leave here a minimum one year ahead (or more) in math. The Upper School has an accelerated tiered math program, allowing for students to complete Algebra I or Geometry in eighth grade. This prepares them for advanced and higher level math options in high school.