It Started with A Question
What would it look like to have each student in our school finish a math project feeling like a strong and capable mathematician?
To answer that question, our faculty created Math Vitamin. Based on years of research of different learning styles and curricular entry points, we created a multi-disciplinary approach. Each student enters a math task from an area of strength and then works through areas of challenge. This is the key to Math Vitamin’s success.
What is Math Vitamin?
The approach begins with each student working on a task rather than a teacher delivering a lesson. Students and teachers debrief, process, and strategize as a team at the close of every math session. This allows students to do the initial thinking about the steps required to solve a problem. It also allows the teacher to see the entry points each individual student prefers and follow their thinking, enabling them to coach each student individually. Over time, Math Vitamin builds a deep and meaningful understanding of mathematical concepts.
The Math Continuum Stages
How it Works: Different Methods for Different Learners
Math isn’t always a quiet activity—kids need to discuss, listen, look, and move while learning to think mathematically. Because children process and assimilate information at different rates and have unique learning styles, we developed Math Vitamin so each individual can achieve success. Stories are the framework we use to anchor and present Math Vitamin. Students begin by reading a story, then solve the assigned task using the components outlined below. While students choose an entry point that meets their preferred approach to learning, every student is required to build, draw, and record, regardless of where they start the process.
Math Vitamin components:
Some students thrive on demonstrating their thinking visually with items and objects—what we refer to in math as manipulatives. Manipulatives—such as pattern blocks, color tiles, and wooden cubes—serve as an ideal way to better understand process and communicate solutions.
Another entry point for students is to document or represent work artistically. This is a way for students who are artistically inclined to process information found in the story in a way that appeals to their sensibilities.
If abstract thinking is an area of strength, some students prefer to start math work by writing an expression or equation. This entry point is only one part of a student’s Math Vitamin work. Once they create an equation, they’re still required to build, record, and discuss their thinking.