Beyond Basic Math

Posted on Tuesday January 28, 2014

One of the things you’ll often hear our Head of School, Dr. Dorothy Foote, say about our curriculum is that it includes “multiple layers of benefit.” For instance, although our students do study algebra, you won’t often find them seated at desks with textbooks in hand. Instead, our teachers weave together subjects in a very hands-on way that makes our learning immediately relevant, both to our other areas of study, and to the real world. 


This kind of benefit is found in our culinary program, in which students take turns cooking dinner for the entire school for a week at a time.  Students must come up with a weekly meal plan that fits within the allotted food budget, and multiply recipes to feed the entire school community for that week.  Involved in this assignment are math, budgeting and culinary skills that students will carry forward with them for the rest of their lives.


This same sort of cross-over study and immediate relevance are found in our Green Initiative classes, our Social Justice and Diversity classes, our Creative Writing classes, our Art classes and even in our community service projects, field trips, learning expeditions and more.


This fall, we took math beyond the classroom again, by getting outdoors and creating a great piece of art at our Opportunity Farm campus.  This project was directed by Creative Arts Coordinator Oren Stevens and combined math, design, team work, a little bit of landscaping and a whole lot of Wayfinder Schools spirit.


Here’s a summary of the project from Lead Teacher Christine Boudreau:


Our first, big project in Art was to design and execute a crop circle! Students spent a day sharing ideas about shapes and designs, then approximating the layout and getting familiar with the tools involved. They came up with the design on their own and soon after, everyone went out to the field to lay down a large grid made of twine. The activity was surprisingly tricky, as the twine refused to stay smooth and straight. It was great to see everyone practice team effort and the perseverance needed for the final steps of the project: doubling our new school logo into a 360-degree compass rose! Students all worked on the math and methods to understand how to help each other get the correct proportions, and finally, the design was mowed onto our fields.




Here are the results:






Next, Oren will be incorporating Iranian art into our Middle East study!