The Scoop from the Lower School, Grades 1-4: Mrs. Clare King

March 1, 2008

Dear Lower School Parents,

In last month’s Scoop I highlighted some of the basics of the Mathematics program in Grades 1 through 4. I briefly described points relating to computation, concepts and the language of Math. This month I will focus on the more advanced aspects of the mathematics program.

In today’s world students are and will be expected to read and interpret information in many different forms. They will often need to view graphs, tables, scatter plots, line plots and time lines. The data presented will need to be analyzed and conclusions drawn. We introduce the students, as early as first grade, to the basic skills necessary to begin to read graphs and compare the information displayed. They learn to construct their own picture, bar, line and circle graphs. Gradually as they progress to fourth grade, the students learn how to see trends and make predictions for the future based on the plotted information. Periodically you may want to demonstrate for your child how you use graphs and tables of information in your day to day life.

The goal of any comprehensive mathematics program is to help the students think strategically. This is the means through which students develop advanced mathematical thinking. In the Lower School the process of problem solving and strategic thinking begins in First Grade. At that level they are formally introduced to 10 essential strategies to include: Act Out / Use Objects, Make Picture or Diagram, Create a Table, Make an Organized List, Guess and Check, Look for a Pattern, Work Backwards, Use Logical Reasoning, Make it Simple, Brainstorm. To view a sample strategic thinking problem for each grade click here.

It is extremely important that the students recognize that there is not just one way to solve a problem. They need to “play” with information and explore various possibilities to come up with solutions. Through this experience students begin to be greater risk takers, value different ways of thinking and become more willing to look at what they encounter from a variety of perspectives. In the classroom the teachers use cooperative work groups to encourage the students to broaden their thinking and appreciate the varied approaches used by their classmates.

Space does not permit a more detailed illustration of all that the students do daily to develop their problem solving and thinking skills, but hopefully the ideas presented will prompt interest and reflection.