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What does math look like in K-4? Introducing the Bridges Math curriculum

“This doesn’t seem like math to me” is a comment that Second Grade Teacher Kelly Kaufman has heard more than once from her students. 

What does math look like to you? It’s likely that kids (and us adults) are used to practicing math on a worksheet, doing equations. But in Kelly’s classroom, they’re learning and gaining proficiency in key math skills through creative games, projects, and math discussions in partners and groups. They are excited and engaged.

This past fall, Second Grade Teacher Kelly Kaufman and Fourth Grade Teacher Susan Guadagno, along with the rest of the Lower School faculty, introduced the Bridges Math Curriculum to our Marin Horizon students. The early reactions and results are quite exciting.

“My kids are asking me for extra homework because they’re interested in working on the material a little bit more. Taking it further. I haven’t had that before.” said Teacher Susan. 

Hear what students think about math in this video...

The Bridges Math curriculum emphasizes the importance of the students gaining a conceptual understanding of math. When students are taught algorithms and procedures before they get the chance to explore the underlying principles of mathematics, you might lose a few. By giving them the opportunity to experiment with how numbers work, students come up with multiple strategies to approach new problems.

Director of Curriculum Anna Varnay-Truong outlines what she anticipates Bridges Math will bring to the math program. Bridges will:

  • Support students' comfort level taking risks with mathematical thinking, a.k.a. rough-draft thinking 

  • Deepen students' number sense so they have a stronger understanding of algorithms. 

  • Supports academic collaborative conversations between students. 

  • Turn calendar time into a mathematical structured investigation.

Teacher Susan who has been teaching for over 20 years says, “I’m super excited about it. I love the program. It’s dynamic and it hits all levels of learners. And the kids love it, too. Kids who need a more concrete understanding of concepts - it gives that to them, and it gives them a chance to work cooperatively in groups. They’re enjoying grappling with math problems. The advanced students have the opportunity to regularly grapple with complex problems.” 

For instance, during a lesson on area and perimeters, Susan’s emerging students might be working out what the perimeter of a given shape is, while her advanced students will be considering how shapes with the same perimeter may not look the same.

Numbers Corner Calendar Gives Kids a Daily Math Workout

Number Corner is an important component of Bridges Math that our teachers use daily to introduce, reinforce, and extend students’ math skills. Revolving around the classroom calendar, each month focuses on a different math concept, such as geometry, fractions or place value. Each day, a new piece is revealed in the calendar display, providing a jumping off point for discussion, observations, predictions, problem solving, games, and more. 

Teacher Susan's Fourth Grade Number Corner for April focuses on geometric shapes.

May's Calendar Grid workout in Teacher Kelly's Second Grade classroom introduces a break-the-code exercise that reinforces place value concepts, 2- and 3-digit addition and subtraction, and number relationships. 

“I love how much fun they’re having they’re really enjoying math class," says Teacher Kelly. "They’re really excited for it. And there’s sort of this really great buzz in the classroom in the air when math starts.”


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