Lower School math instruction is organized around the fundamental principles of elementary mathematics. Students delve into place value, estimation, whole number computation, fractions, and decimals.
Students solve for unknowns, complete functions, measure in metric and U.S. Customary Units, analyze graphs and data landmarks, and solve geometric problems. Emphasis is on number sense, computational strategies for mental and written arithmetic, and logical and spatial reasoning.
Carefully woven into instruction is the transition from physical materials that express math ideas concretely to numeric notations that represent ideas abstractly. As a part of this transition, first and second grade students practice the problem-solving strategies of building models, drawing diagrams, creating lists/charts, and writing number sentences. Third and fourth grade students’ expanded problem-solving repertoire includes Singapore bar model diagrams, logic matrixes, open number lines, and parentheses to express complex equations.
Mathematical learning extends beyond the six designated math classes each week. Students encounter math in their humanities, science and art units. For example:
- First grade scientists use fraction notation to record the numbers of Amazon rainforest animals in their drawings;
- Second grade historians outline the perimeter of Lewis and Clark’s keelboat to determine its area;
- Third grade mathematicians use technology to study the polyhedron family and invent nets for new 3D shapes;
- Fourth grade scientists measure birds caught in mist nets before banding and releasing them.
Interdisciplinary studies foster active learning and provide opportunities to apply math concepts and skills to other disciplines.