Author: Chad Lower, M.S. Laurel Springs Mathematics Academic Department Chair
When my wife and I recently moved, I found an old journal while we were unpacking. My parents bought me this journal when I was in fourth grade.
The first page was an “About Me” page, and it was interesting to see how much things changed and how much they stayed the same.
Favorite color: blue
Favorite food: ice cream
Favorite subject: science
Why? Because it is fun
Least favorite subject: math
Why? Because it is boring
Now, understand that I have a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics (theory), a Master of Science in Mathematics (applied), and I have been teaching or tutoring math since 2000. I earned the Recognition of Excellence Award from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for my Content Knowledge of 7th–12th grade mathematics. I have multiple math articles published in the Encyclopedia of Mathematics and Society. My idea of a good time is a Logic Puzzle book and a pen.
My disdain for math wasn’t because I thought it was difficult—just the opposite. My logical mind was able to grasp the concepts immediately. I did the practice problems in class and the homework with minimal errors, and was finished quickly. Unfortunately for me, though, there were 29 other students in the class who hadn’t grasped the concept yet.
While I had mastered the topic and was ready to move on, they were still trying to get comfortable with the definitions. Since my fourth grade teacher was responsible for the whole class, she couldn’t move at my pace, but had to slow down for the other students to catch up.
I was bored.
When I think of what Laurel Springs offers our students, I cannot help but remember my challenging brick-and-mortar school experience.
If I were a Laurel Springs School student, I could have progressed in my math course as rapidly as I was able. Once I mastered a concept, I could have moved on. There would have been no one slowing me down and I wouldn’t have had to wait for anyone to catch up.
Since our courses are mastery based, once a student shows competency, they can move on to the next lesson. As described by Eli Karam, “Without the traditional limits of a standardized class time, students can pace themselves, spending as much time as they deem necessary to grasp the material.” (Karam, Clymer and Elias)
If you, or your student, can relate to my experience, then a Laurel Springs summer math course sounds like it could be a great fit for you!
By taking your next math course this summer with us, not only can you progress at a pace that is comfortable for you (not too fast or too slow), but it opens up a world of possibilities for your next school year.
Some students use summer courses with Laurel Springs as a springboard to get ahead for next year. Perhaps you take Pre-Algebra with us so you can jump into Algebra 1 next year. Or maybe take Geometry over the summer to get those pesky proofs and constructions out of the way in anticipation of taking Algebra 2 next year.
Other students will use their summer to take a math course so they don’t have to in the fall. You may opt to take a different course entirely, like an elective that would have been difficult to fit in if you had scheduling conflicts. Alternately, you may opt for one less class in your course load. This course of action would be helpful if you were taking a lot of other challenging courses (like AP or Honors), or if you need the extra time for activities you are involved in, like sports or performing.
Our families often tell us about how their children are thriving in our online environment, where they enjoy a more personalized approach to their education. The authentic feedback provided by our faculty is designed to address a student’s needs and identify opportunities for them as individuals, regardless of where the other students are in the course material.
I can only imagine how different my journal would have looked if I was able to take a math class at Laurel Springs School.
Favorite subject: math
Why? Because I can work at my own pace and my teacher challenges me to do my best.
Least favorite subject: … I’ll need more time to think about this one.
Work Cited:Karam, Eli A., et al. “Together Face-to-Face or Alone at Your Own Pace: Comparing Traditional vs. Blended Learning Formats in Couple & Family Relationship Coursework.” Journal of Instructional Psychology 41.1-4 (2014): 85-93. Web. 29 March 2016.