At Severn, the goal of our Lower School math program is to develop creative, flexible and strategic thinkers and communicators who can apply skills to solve a variety of mathematical problems. Through investigations and hands-on experiences, students will be able to make connections between what they are learning and the world around them.
Math in Focus is our core mathematics program that offers a systematic, coherent, spiraling curriculum. Students develop a strong mathematical foundation and continue to build on this each year as they learn more complex skills and concepts. Our students develop strong number sense, algebraic reasoning and problem solving skills by using concrete manipulatives, number bonds and rectangular bars to represent part-whole relationships.
Students are encouraged to persevere with difficult problems and to take risks by testing new ideas and strategies. They are encouraged to become flexible thinkers by solving problems in a variety of ways.
Students have opportunities to communicate their math ideas through whole-group discussions and journal writing. Students develop a “toolbox” of mathematical strategies including: guess and check, act it out, find a pattern, make a table and model drawing, which is a visual representation of a math problem. This strategy helps students gain a deeper understanding of the mathematical operations they may employ to solve problems and helps to build a bridge to algebraic thinking and problem solving.
Math skills and concepts are weaved into all content areas. For instance, in third grade social studies, students learn about West African countries by researching each country’s culture, natural resources and geography. To support the concepts taught about West Africa, a picture book is read in math, Wangari's Trees of Peace about the work of Nobel Prize winner, Wangari Maathai. The story is used to introduce multiplication concepts where students create arrays that depict the planting of trees in Kenya. Lower School students see math as a larger landscape, embedded in the world around them.