Scholars in Mrs. Heather Ehlmann’s math class were working on final practice on multiplying and dividing fractions on Tuesday in preparation for a quiz on Friday.
Mrs. Ehlmann used a variety of methods to keep the class engaged and focused on the coursework, starting with a “Quiz, Quiz, Trade” activity, a teaching method used in a variety of St. Louis College Prep classrooms to get scholars out of their seats and interacting over key subject matter.
Mrs. Ehlmann quickly joined in with the scholars as the walked around the room pairing up and quizzing each other on flash cards, but when scholars got overly excited about the chance to move around, Elhmann quickly called them to order with a fun call and response.
“Macaroni and cheese,” she said, with the class quickly responding, “Everybody freeze.”
As the “Quiz, Quiz, Trade,” exercise wound down, Mrs. Elmann transitioned into the next fun reinforcement activity, practicing how to divide fractions with word problems.
Although many people might groan at the prospect of tackling word problems, they have never had the chance to do so in Mrs. Ehmann’s class where scholars get to master the task while writing on their desks with dry erase markers.
“It cuts down on scrap paper, which can cause a mess and is a big waste, and the kids absolutely love it,” said Ehlmann. “It is just fun to write on your desk. It also helps with partner work because now the scholars are not just sharing a piece of paper – they are sharing a whole desk or two whole desks together. It makes it super easy for me and for them.”
Ehlmann said the desk-writing initiative also helps her scholars develop a greater sense of responsibility, something that St. Louis College Prep really focuses on with all of its scholars.
“The students are responsible for cleaning their own desks at the end of class and having it presentable for the next scholars that are coming in,” said Ehlmann. “It is a responsibility they take a lot of pride in.”
The practice also makes it easy for Mrs. Ehlmann to help her scholars when they are having trouble figuring a problem out.
She quietly walked around the room, glancing over scholar’s shoulders to see how they were doing and pausing to help some scholars talk through their reasoning and helping them to focus on the correct path to an answer.
Class ended with a review of all of the notes that scholars would be quizzed on the next day – a long and comprehensive list including adding and subtracting decimals, multiplication and division of decimals, simplifying and converting fractions, and multiplication and division of fractions.
She made sure to check with each of the scholars to see if they had all the notes they needed to succeed on the quiz, before the class ended.
Mrs. Ehlmann said it is important to use a variety of teaching methods with her scholars.
“The number one goal is to get scholars engaged and excited about learning,” said Mrs. Ehlmann. “I personally love to learn and want my scholars to love to learn as well. Of course different methods work better with different scholars which is why I try and do something different every day.”
She fully believes every scholar can succeed if they are given the right tools and engagement.
Mrs. Ehlmann’s class will soon start focusing on expressions, equations and inequalities.
“I am excited to move on because most of the number sense is a review from 5th grade for the scholars,” she said. “Expressions, equations and inequalities will be newer material for them.”
Mrs. Ehlmann said her favorite math topic to teach is finding the measures of center (mean, median, and mode.
“We have an awesome song that we sing to remember the difference between the three,” she said. “I can't wait to sing it with my scholars in Cycle IV. I love teaching and I hope that by the end of the year scholars love learning.”