At Campbell Middle School, Stepping Up to Algebra (SUTA) was offered to two classes of students over the summer to prepare them for success in eighth grade algebra. SUTA teacher Rebecca Rios states, “We’re seeing a lot of lightbulbs go off. At first, most of the kids come in here with a thumbs-down attitude about math. But we see them turn that around fairly quickly.”
Ms. Rios remarked the students would be “freaked out” if they were in their regular schools with larger classes, studying math for four hours. But in this less conventional setting with fewer students in their class, working on algebra for four hours is fun to them.
“They know if they get stuck, there’s always myself and a TA [teaching assistant] is close by to help,” she said. “Or they can go to the computer and [watch] the Khan Academy video.” The SUTA students, such as Concepción Vasquez and Anastasia Vasquez, work very hard, Ms. Rios added. “They are understanding conceptual problems. Many are working on their own. We are seeing a lot of growth.”
Teaching Assistant Richard Prizznick noted, “You can almost feel the tension in class when the students are really grasping something. “It’s like standing in front of a slot machine and all of sudden triple sevens come up. There is this brain and verbal explosion. It’s incredible.”
Seeing students grow and gain confidence in math is a tremendous satisfaction for teachers, Mr. Prizznick said. “On the first day of class when you ask them how they feel about math, there is always a loud groan. It’s a great feeling to turn that attitude into learning and confidence.” He added, “To see the student go home after summer school class and do more math, that’s success!”
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