A school district is building understanding of algebra by creating an Applied Algebra class which combines the study of algebra with practical applications.
The class for students entering South Albany High school is a year long, combining half a math credit with half an elective credit. Students learn algebra, but they also prepare cookie dough, fly kites, and build craft projects in a woodshop.
According to special education and resource teacher Matt Gray, the number of students who fail math has dropped dramatically, from 40 percent to 10 percent. Most of that 10 percent is from lack of attendance. “If they’re here, they’re passing,” he said.
Other tactics have been tried before. Teachers have tried additional intervention, lower level math classes, and computer labs but saw little results. The Applied Algebra class was proposed by principal Brent Belveal, and the whole math teacm, special education resource teacher and woodshop teachers embraced the challenge.
“We’re building this course basically from scratch,” said math teacher Elyse Lipke.