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MAKING MATH COME ALIVE

SoVaNow.com / January 21, 2013
It’s not the look of a traditional classroom — four or five students at each table huddle together to come up with the correct answers to math questions. Teachers, seeing actual enthusiasm in the class, press students to come up with explanations for their answers.

That’s what school board members witnessed Thursday morning at the Math Grant Awareness Event held at Halifax County Middle School. The event brought together math teachers from Halifax County and nearby Mecklenburg, Emporia and Lunenburg.

PowerTeaching i3 focuses on the teaching of math in grades 6-8, including Algebra I classes. Begun at Halifax County Middle School in September, the three-year program is aligned with state standards and relies on cooperative-learning structures that are proven to increase student achievement.

Partners in the program’s development are Old Dominion University (ODU), The Success for All Foundation (SfAF) and the Center for Technology in Education of John Hopkins University.

John Nunnery,executive director of the Center for Educational Partnerships at Old Dominion University,said PowerTeaching i3 provides materials, professional development and coaching support for participating schools at no cost during the three-year pilot period.

Paul Miller, who oversees the local program, said it is based on four key elements: active instruction, teamwork, assessment and celebration of success.

Visitors to the middle school were escorted by students to four classrooms — two seventh grade and two sixth grade — where the program is being used. Students worked in groups of four or five to come up with solutions to the problems posed to them by their teachers and then explained their answers and the rationale used in coming up with those answers.

Halifax County School Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon thanked Nunnery and Miller for their comments and support, and wanted to know what the cost would be to carry the program into the high school math classes. The answer: $22,000 a year.

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