Collaborating on Advanced Math

Collaborating to understand advanced math
8th grade students, St. Albans City School

ST. ALBANS — At St. Albans City School, every morning students from both 7th and 8th grade teams come together for a class called Advanced Math. This class is the equivalent to high school Algebra. The class has two teachers, Mr. Cioffi and Mr. Laroche. They work together to teach and support the students. Mr. Cioffi patiently helps us understand the work step by step. Mr. Laroche asks questions along the way and helps to relate what we are doing to things we learned earlier in our math career. Together they make learning math understandable and intriguing.

Most of our lessons and homework are assigned through a computer program called Haiku. Our scores are also there. Often our homework is to finish class activities, and at times we get online assignments using different programs like Kahn Academy, Manga High and Delta Math. We often use Desmos Graphing Calculator to check our work.

This math class is a unique learning environment for us. At St. Albans City School we have two 7th and 8th grade teams, USA and Renaissance. In Advanced Math, 8th graders from both of these teams work together. This creates an opportunity to collaborate with students who we would not normally interact with. This allows the students to broaden their views on the material that is taught. The teachers encourage our working together by making us work in mixed team groups.
Group work is a big part of our class. We always sit in groups at tables. Sometimes they are assigned and sometimes we can choose our own. Collaboration is a normal part of our class. We talk to each other a lot, to check our work or to share our thinking.

Our current project is Angry Birds. In this project we are using our knowledge to create parabolas for different birds that all have different information and data that are displayed in diverse forms. A requirement is to present in a creative environment that will keep the audience interested and still explain the concept. This is one of the more fun projects that we have had to do this year because we get to do things that requires skills and creativity that are not normally associated with math. It helps bring out our artistic talents.

Above, Mr. Cioffi works with students in advanced math at St. Albans City School to understand their parabolas. Right, the advanced math class at St. Albans City School takes place in the Learning Commons.
Courtesy of JOAN CAVALLO