By Sam Walters, CEI Intern
Students love technology. As someone who taught middle school math last year for DC Public Schools, I witnessed firsthand how much time was spent on computers and iPads. Students enjoy being able to work hands-on and interact with programs in order to play games and learn key mathematical ideas simultaneously.
Introducing Spatial Temporal (ST) Math
One of the leading resources in visual math instruction is ST Math, which is a great resource to use to supplement classroom instruction for grades K-8 as it combines fluency and conceptual understanding using graphically-rich animations. Created by MIND Research Institute, ST Math is based around spatial-temporal reasoning. This ability, which lies at the core of innovative thinking and sophisticated problem-solving, allows the brain to hold visual, mental representations in short-term memory and to evolve them in both space and time, thinking multiple steps ahead.
- Currently, ST Math has been implemented in 43 states with over 1,000,000 students, 39,000 teachers, and 3,100 schools using the program.
- A core team of neuroscientists, educators, and mathematicians built the program and is continuing to conduct research on its efficacy.
- Looking at data from 2012 through 2014, schools that fully implement ST Math see double, and even triple, the growth in math proficiency than comparable schools.
- Another great aspect of ST Math is that it was designed to meet the Standards for Mathematical Practice and Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in both content and intent, ensuring that all students have access to powerfully learning opportunities organized for focus, coherence, and rigor.
Applying ST Math in the Classroom
ST Math has been a main driver for student engagement and for developing a growth mindset in DC Public Schools. Between 2013 and 2014, 3rd through 5th grade students at Randle Highlands Elementary School in DCPS showed an increase in the percentage of students testing ‘proficient’ and ‘advanced’ on the DC Comprehensive Assessment System summative exam in mathematics. While achievement varied by grade level, the average increase for students testing in these three grades at proficiency or above was 9% year over year.
During my time at Raymond Education Campus last year, there were a few moments that stood out to me where I knew that ST Math was assisting students to learn new math topics and helping them remember the concepts over the course of the year. When teaching some of my lower level 7th grade students how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions, the visual demonstrations that ST Math showed during their time on the computer made a big impact on their conceptual understanding. I remember how excited they were to finally realize how easy it was to figure out the problems and they had no trouble finishing the entire section that day. Some of my more advanced students in 8th grade who were learning about solving linear 2 step equations; they struggled to solve the problems just using pencil and paper. After talking through some problems on ST Math and watching the animations, they slowed started understanding the process of finding the answer. It definitely took some extra time, especially with problems involving a mix of both positive and negative numbers, but I really saw a lot of improvement in completed homework and tests after they worked through the ST Math modules. Some of my students also enjoyed modeling the problems they saw on the screen with manipulatives they could move around in front of them. I loved how engaged and eager the students were to learn and understand the material.
For Teachers Getting Started with ST Math
For educators interested in possibly trying out this great program, visit the Teacher Resource Site and look at the different categories listed on the left hand side of the page. Here are a few examples:
- Monitoring: Teachers can use Quiz Tracking Worksheets to have students set progress goals and track their own progress in ST Math. This is an important part of taking responsibility for their learning. There are also Class Progress and RTI Reports for teachers to measure growth and make individualized lesson plans for specific students.
- Posters/Recognition: Students love receiving awards after working hard in class. There are certificates for when students complete ST Math and Progress Posters to keep track of each student’s progress.
- Classroom Connections: There are videos on how teachers have used ST Math in their own lessons. Also, teachers can use the game mats in order to help teach students about a specific segment of ST Math.
- Info for Parents: There are resources for making sure parents are involved with their students in completing ST Math.
ST Math at Home: Teachers can assign specific ST Math games for students to complete for homework.