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Math infiltrates students’ everyday lives both inside and outside of school.  Therefore math at Feynman is not taught in a vacuum.  Our students understand that math is uniquely connected to different disciplines including but not limited to science, art, music, social studies and language.  Students are engaged in authentic math discourse and collaborative problem solving, not just rote computation and fact recitation.  Although memorization of facts is a critical skill for computational efficiency, it is not a substitute for deep understanding.  Therefore at Feynman School we put emphasis on both.  Students learn the “how” and the “why” of math along with establishing solid foundational knowledge.

According to Advisory Board member Dr. Mark Saul, Director for the Center for Mathematical Talent at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University, there is no one-size-fits all mathematics curriculum that can adequately meet the needs of gifted learners.  Therefore, at Feynman School our teachers use best practices to meet the diverse needs of our accelerated learners.  Students are assessed before each unit to determine their level of mastery of mathematical content and reasoning.  Based on these results, teachers engage in curriculum compacting, a method developed for eliminating unnecessary repetition of material already mastered.  Frequent formative and summative assessment along with small group instruction allow for flexible grouping so students’ needs are effectively  met on a daily basis.

Feynman’s math program contains many features and a ceiling on achievement is not one of them.  With two teachers in each classroom, we are able to effectively respond to the needs of individual students and help them achieve their fullest potential.   Our goal, as highlighted in Developing Math Talent (2011), is for our students to have “consistent exposure to new learning.”

 

Early Childhood

Starting as early as preschool and continuing on into prekindergarten, students are actively engaged in mathematical thinking and reasoning during direct small group instruction as well as during their ever important free play. 

We nurture children’s natural mathematical interests and abilities.  Our young mathematicians can be seen regularly engaging in play that involves classification, magnitude, enumeration, patterns, and shapes, as well as spatial relations.  Teachers capitalize on these moments through higher-order questioning and promote conversations between students that encourage children to talk with each other to problem solve and share ideas and strategies.

By using children’s self-directed play experiences as teachable math moments as well as structured math instruction, children develop a more positive attitude about math and a deeper, more complete understanding about how math relates to their world that they will carry with them through life.

 

Elementary School

Students in our Elementary Program are afforded daily opportunities to engage in authentic skills and processes of practicing mathematicians.  They engage in math discourse allowing them to learn effective communication skills as well as flexibility of thinking when exposed to various strategies for solving problems.

Students at Feynman are among their intellectual peers, which allows teachers to:

●design innovative curriculum with added depth and breadth

●compact the curriculum when appropriate and accelerate within certain topics

●provide deep and complex elaboration within topics

●create collaborative lessons that allow students to interact with peers and learn from each other

●encourage and support students’ application of math skills to other disciplines and to their lives outside of school

●integrate critical thinking throughout each lesson

Students are challenged in math to analyze data, draw conclusions, justify results, reason abstractly, question, and reflect both orally and in writing.

 

Middle School
At Feynman School we pride ourselves on providing a Middle School Mathematics program that is individualized, providing advanced instruction matched to each student’s needs. Students foster a feeling of ownership over their learning as they grow in their abilities to program, prove theorems, find creative solutions to puzzles and present their inquiries and findings to one others. We cultivate these healthy minds by challenging them to respect, document, and creatively puzzle through their mathematical queries.

Feynman School math students are undaunted by challenge: they face it with insatiable curiosity and hunger for learning. Time and again, our students have proven that their curiosity reaches beyond textbooks and their questions are celebrated and taken seriously. When students ask salient questions, we record them and investigate them either in a group setting or a student will investigate this question individually and then report the discovery back to the other students.

“The highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion.”

Richard Feynman