Math in the Elementary School

A Primary Years Programme (PYP) Math classroom may look different than what you’re used to. Single rows of desks, individual work, paper and pencils are replaced with collaborative spaces, group work, manipulatives, thinking problems, and puzzles.

Math classrooms sound different too. At Meadowridge, students adopt a growth mindset as they work through challenges: “I can’t” is replaced with “I can’t yet”. Working together, students stay open to new ideas, persevere, conjecture, and support one another. Teachers, meanwhile, foster an environment of empowerment, inquiry, and support, free from fears of “getting it wrong”.

What do students do in a PYP Math classroom?

Engage in number talks and class discussions—students talk about the “why?” and not just the “how?”. Answers are not the end of a discussion. If a student provides an answer, the next question is “how do you know?” or, “can you show me another solution?”. Students learn to justify their thinking and, in doing so, can develop a deeper and more sophisticated level of understanding.

Engage in hands-on learning—students are visual and auditory learners. Individually and in groups, students use manipulatives and other puzzles to explore and build greater understanding.

Engage in collaborative and cooperative learning—students learn with each other and from each other. “Can you teach me?” is a welcome question in class. Students gain a better understanding when they talk it out, whether it’s explaining a concept or asking questions about it.

Engage in reflection—students are encouraged to set goals and reflect on their learning. “Show me how your thinking changed” is a provocation PYP students know well. Goals, meanwhile, encourage constant improvement and learning.

What about assessments?

While rubrics are an important part of assessment, so too are anecdotes and conversations. Teachers use internal and external assessments to not only grade students but also gauge their comprehension and personalize support. Students also have the opportunity to talk about their growth in learning during Student Conferences and in plenty of individual conversations throughout the year.

Meadowridge Math, at home

Connecting Math to the real-world is easy—it’s everywhere!

Cooking: discuss time, fractions, measurements
Shopping: money, fractions, number operations
Traveling: elapsed time, measurement, mapping, currency
Building: measurements, fractions, engineering
Board games: problem-solving, strategy games
Current events: climate change data, health care, finance.

Check out Elementary Math Resources for more.
Learn more from our Elementary Mathematics Information Session.