Math is for everyone

The roster for this year's Middle School MathCounts team has been announced. see them here

 

The team is made up of the students who got the top ten scores on the placement test offered each December.

 

It's a point of pride that this year's team has a 50/50 gender balance.

 

It might seem like that ought to always be the case, but it isn't. 

 

While there aren't formal numbers available, Gordon's past teams—with three or four females—have consistently stood out at the mostly-male state MathCounts competitions. 

 

Gordon's progress is not an accident, and it is in direct opposition to a host of well-documented societal pressures that discourage female engagement in math.

 

It takes persistent, thoughtful work to push back against gender bias.

 

There's something wonderful, though, that can happen when a school tries to open up a discipline like math where certain populations have historically been underrepresented.

 

The improvements that help bring in underrepresented voices often turn out to be improvements that benefit all the learners in the classroom.

 

Over the past six years at Gordon, those improved strategies have included a complete reboot of the math curriculum, which now uses the innovative Math in Focus program in all three divisions of the school.

 

Gordon also invested in a full-time math specialist that works with every student, in every grade, and oversees differentiated instruction in Middle School that ensures that every student is appropriately stretched and challenged.

 

In addition, Gordon now has a suite of online tools that move some of the memorization work out of the classroom and allow teachers to connect with students around ideas, not quizzes.

 

The online tools also help students progress at their own pace, and maintain their skills of the summer, in ways that xeroxed handouts never could.

 

All of these improvements leave students ample room to approach any one problem from a variety of angles, finding their own ways to challenge themselves with the work.

 

And the innovation continues: last spring, Gordon piloted a math mentors program, with Middle School volunteers going into Lower School classrooms to serve as coaches and teaching assistants during math class.

 

It's been six years since Gordon took its math practice to another level.

 

The members of this year's math team were in Kindergarten, and first and second grade then.

 

This year, the math curriculum is undergoing a full review, one that happens every three years

 

That review will produce new ideas about how math instruction can further support the broader goals of Gordon's anti-bias, multicultural curriculum.

 

That's crucial work, but, even as Gordon looks ahead, it's worth pausing to remember how far we've come.
 

All photos are from the walls of Gordon's first, second, third and fourth grade classrooms.

Gordon's MathCounts team has been dominating the state championships for the past three years

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