Hands-On Learning in Middle School Math

I was visiting the Middle School Commons this week, and the walls were lined with fairly sophisticated cartoon drawings. However, this work was not the product of art class, but rather geometry!

Our Middle School math teachers are masters at bringing math to life through incorporating hands-on learning techniques. The cartoon drawings were part of a unit on transformations: the students learned about how shapes can change size through moving in space, and then they applied this learning to cartoon images. 

Our teachers incorporate these types of hands-on learning in every math level. In Math 6, students choose their favorite recipe and apply mixed number and fraction multiplication to experiment with different quantities. 

In Pre-Algebra, students are learning about variables, constants, coefficients, like terms, distributive properties, products, polynomials, monomials, binomials, and trinomials. (I don’t think I have ever used all those words in one sentence before!) Next week they will be given a choice on how to represent their knowledge by creating math problems then presenting their work either as a graphic novel, puzzle or matching activity, quiz and answer key, or Jeopardy or other non-electronic game. 

In Algebra, students explore the line of best fit through choosing two types of data to correlate through linear modeling and value forecasting. In the past, students have tackled data points such as leg length vs. how high one can jump, age vs number of saves in hockey (ouch!), and one’s happiness index vs. their geographical distance from the equator. 

Also in Geometry, students determine a marathon route based on a given distance on a coordinate plane. They practice midpoint and distance formulas through calculating water stops, restroom placements, and first aid stations. 

In addition to making math fun, these techniques also help students understand the real-world applications of math and how important it is in everyday life and work. Way to go Middle School students – we are excited to see your future math endeavors!


Danny Vogelman

Head of School