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Giving Algebra Meaning

Show of hands, when you first took algebra, who was confused as to the role the alphabet played in a subject all about numbers? The ABC’s don’t intermingle with the 123’s and make sense, or do they?

Two teachers at Transitions Learning Center have found a way to show students how algebra concepts translate into the working world. Math teacher Dwight Burrows and Construction teacher Rob Hill have integrated their classes to bridge the gap between learning math and applying it to real world situations.

“When we took the idea to our principal, Chris Bolender, she was all for it and was supportive in getting it off the ground,” said Mr. Burrows. “We feel that we are pioneering the concepts that the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) will soon offer and proving that it works in engaging and re-engaging students in classes in which they previously struggled.”

The students in this integrated class are using math concepts and equations to build a shed for NCSD athletics. They are using angles, tangents, and parallel lines, along with measurements including finding the area of an object, to fit all the pieces together. Mr. Burrows has carefully arranged his lesson plans to follow the production schedule of the shed.

“It’s exciting to see the kids finally ‘get’ math,” said Mr. Burrows.

Kayla Fuller struggled with math until she took this class. She says it has helped her make sense of concepts that once confused her.

“It’s a new learning experience. It’s nice to get to work on something, have fun, and still be learning,” she explains.

Integrated classes offer more than proficiency in a core subject, Mr. Hill points out they also teach students valuable working world skills. “Employers need you to know how to do a job, but they also need workers who can communicate and work effectively as a team. These kids have enjoyed working in a team setting and have really accomplished a lot in a short amount of time.”

As one of the first girls to jump into the construction class at Transitions, Brianna Workman said it has changed how she sees her future. Once wanting to be a cosmetologist, Brianna now has aspirations to be an architectural engineer.

“It’s really neat to see teachers working so hands-on with teenagers and show them what they need to know to be successful in the working world. For me the classroom doesn’t teach real life. Being out here working on a project, solving the problems together, and seeing the finished product feels good,” said Brianna.

As Mr. Hill says, “We are finally starting to teach to how we are living.”

This is just the beginning of class integration at Transitions. In the works is a Financial Literacy class that will meld language arts and math to teach students the importance of a budget, how to open a checking account, and other key money matters students will need to be successful members of our society. Teachers Debra Park and Sandra Shafer are working carefully on curriculum for a class to be offered in the fall.


One comment on “Giving Algebra Meaning

  1. Dana Howie
    April 4, 2013

    Great start to showing what CAPS is about!
    Dana Howie

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This entry was posted on April 4, 2013 by in From the Classroom and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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