ACS Elementary School parents were invited by Elementary School Principal Ms. Diann Osterlund, and teachers Ms. Alexa Kumbier and Ms. Erin Mukri to learn 'hands on' about conceptual math. Two years ago, ACS joined other International Schools in the region and began to investigate conceptual math. Studies showed that students, who had parents and/or teachers telling them that math was difficult or that they themselves weren’t very good at it, would do poorly. But, if they were encouraged and could utilize math curriculum like Eureka Math and resources from organizations such as You Cubed, everyone was likely to succeed in math.
The presentation started with Diann reminiscing about her math experiences growing up and how much has changed in math education since then. Gone are the days of memorization and just 'doing math.' Today students are encouraged to use concrete, pictorial and then abstract ways of expressing their mathematical understandings. As parents sat at tables for the presentation they were given a bag of tools. Sticks, foam discs, pencils and other objects that they could use to represent number groups i.e. round discs with base ten numbers on them – 1, 10, 100. They were shown math problems and many different ways of solving them. One might use the standard vertical method (one number above the other adding and carrying a number) or perhaps a process called 'a number bond' which is grouping numbers to get totals or the 'totals below' which is adding the ones, the tens, then the hundreds, perhaps use pictures to solve the problem, etc. Most importantly, conceptual math requires that students explain their thinking to solve the problem, not just give the answer. This helps them build a better foundation for going forward. Go to the websites and see the math programs, try some of the exercises yourself. You might feel differently about math too!