Math takes a new look at MHS

September 17, 2013 

When freshmen walked into their math classes at Minarets High School this year, it was clear things were different. With Common Core State Standards being implemented statewide, the staff at Minarets decided to take advantage of the change in philosophy.

"Minarets, which prides itself on a 21st century approach, is tackling math in a whole new way," said Damiel Ching, math instructor. "A new addition to the classroom this year is the use of iPads by our freshmen. We are using the newest apps and the top rated programs on the iPads to give students a wide variety of help in understanding and practicing math concepts."

However, the biggest transition this year is how math will be taught. Minarets will be transitioning from the subject oriented math of the past (algebra, geometry, algebra 2...) to a more practical math called math 1. Minarets teachers are excited about the change. Math 1 teacher Vanessa Mello, "Finally, finally, finally, it is here. The integration of mathematical concepts across mathematical disciplines."

The CA Common Core Standards approach to mathematics is encompassing the integration of mathematics concepts across mathematics disciplines. Why is this approach beneficial? Mathematical concepts should not be segregated into disciplines.

The same concepts that are compartmentalized and taught as they apply to separate mathematical disciplines are simply math. The more we connect these ideas, the better we can show how they apply in the real world. Teacher Ryan Hansen explained "Just this week we needed to look up how much a specific cell phone plan costs from Verizon and AT&T. Students not only found the cost but also learned how to navigate the website. We are in the 21st century and these ipads are going to help teach 21st century skills."

The use of the iPad allows students to import source materials, edit those documents, and send their results to teachers or social media sites. It replaces the need for pencil and paper, as students can write on the iPad. The advantage of the iPad, is that 'writing' can be saved, emailed, or posted virtually everywhere!

Denise Alvarez is taking on a new role in the math department as well. She is teaching her "real world" math based class called Freakonomics as well as becoming the freshmen math expert. She spends one on one time with students in refining their skills and being successful in a class called Projects and Production.

In math classes like statistics and calculus, teacher Wayne Pedranti has been changing his approach as well. To encourage critical thinking and real world application, Pedranti has started using writing in math. He gives students problems that involve things that would happen in everyday life and challenges students to write out their process in solving the equations. His approach shows students that math is all around us and that the inquisitive skills developed in Math, make us well rounded in all academic areas.

This new approach and the vigor that the Math department has brought with it has generated excitement on campus. Students are being challenged in new ways and they are given high expectations. It will be a difficult transition at first, but the staff at Minarets is working hard on making students successful. Director of Charter Daniel Ching says, "With the commitment and passion that I see our teachers displaying, I know we will be successful through this math transformation."

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