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M is for Math: STEM Education at Innovation Academy Montessori

STEM Education Las Vegas Montessori-Innovation Academy Las Vegas

STEM Education Las Vegas | Innovation Academy Montessori

Math is the final subject we’re visiting in our look at STEM Education at Innovation Academy. As with all the best Montessori schools, our Las Vegas campus emphasizes a “customizable” approach.

It is fair to say there is no single “path to math.” Instead, we customize our teaching approach to create learning opportunities appropriate for each student. For this to happen, teachers must know their students well and adapt to their changing abilities and understanding of concepts. At any given time, there will be a variety of learning styles in a single classroom. In addition, different students will grasp math concepts in different ways.

One way to approach math from a multitude of angles for a diversity of knowledge levels is to incorporate it into other areas of study. Read our other STEM Education entries on science, technology, and engineering in the Montessori classroom in our blog archives.

Problem-Based Learning

Though some classrooms make math an exercise in nothing more than rote memorization through “busywork,” that is not our approach. It is certainly important to memorize key math facts, but a deep, conceptual understanding of math requires something more. For example, working in a group to solve a practical problem can allow students to pick up concepts organically. By emphasizing collaboration, teachers encourage the students to teach and learn from each other. Perhaps most importantly, students do not realize they are teaching and learning as they team up to achieve a common goal.

…rather than setting “standard achievement” as a goal (or worse, as a box to be checked), our teachers aim for something more.

Our teachers also avoid routine lectures and “lessons.” Instead, they encourage students in customized projects and problem-solving exercises that require math-based solutions.

Seeing math at work in real-world scenarios allows students to better understand the underlying concepts. After all, math is not a collection of disconnected numbers, figures, and equations, but is a tool with valuable applications.

Concrete Numbers, Flexible Program

Innovation Academy uses enVisionmath for math education. This is a Common Core program specifically designed for kindergarten through fifth grade. Las Vegas schools—and, in fact, all Nevada schools—are required to follow Common Core state standards.

However, rather than setting “standard achievement” as a goal (or worse, as a box to be checked), our teachers aim for something more. Deep conceptual understanding will pay off in other ways in a student’s life. The difference is in being able to recite facts versus knowing how to approach problems without easy-to-see solutions.

By developing a fundamental understanding of underlying math concepts, children are better able to deal with new and unfamiliar situations. In other words, Innovation Academy students learn more than the “what” of math. They also learn the “why” and “when.” This is different from parroting times tables or speedy long division tricks. Again, being able to quickly remember or determine the answer to various simple equations is important. But it should not be the end goal of a valuable math education.

Tying It All Together | STEM Education

In addition to its many benefits, enVisionmath integrates numerous other disciplines. First and foremost, the program incorporates technology, ensuring a tight relationship with another aspect of STEM.

Math itself is also a crucial component in both science and engineering activities at Innovation Academy. From measuring materials for a project to counting and calculating results in a science experiment, math is an everyday reality. This mirrors everyday life. And if we’re not preparing our students for success in the real world, what are we doing?

CONTACT US at Innovation Academy to learn more about math in the classroom, as well as all aspects of STEM education.

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STEM Education Las Vegas | Innovation Academy Montessori