Caedmon children explore the fundamental mathematical concepts of numbers and operations, measurement, patterns, geometry, data analysis, and early algebra. Among other sources, The Caedmon School’s math program incorporates TERC: Investigations in Number, Data and Space, a curriculum endorsed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The study of number concepts spans counting, number composition, and place value. Math instruction is reinforced at every level of the Caedmon program through use of hands-on materials. These enable a tactile, visual, and concrete understanding of mathematical concepts. In addition to this conceptual work, Caedmon’s math program focuses on developing computational fluency.
Caedmon students explore number quantities and develop strategies to manipulate numbers. Within the four operations—addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, children are encouraged to explore and share their own methods of calculation to supplement those of more traditional mathematics. Students’ strategies are rooted in number sense and place value, and incorporate skills such as mental arithmetic, visualization, and estimation. Students move towards proficiency with correct and efficient calculation strategies, while developing clear and concise notation. In the elementary years, small, flexible instructional groups allow teachers to adapt lessons and groupings to the changing needs and skill levels of each child.
At Caedmon, problem solving is framed as a skill that is crucial in academic learning and in the world at large. To hone this skill, students analyze and solve word problems and create ones of their own. As students become comfortable with this type of mathematics, they deepen their conceptual understanding of number relationships and operations. Teachers encourage students to use varied approaches to problem solving that include charts, drawings, lists, tallies, patterns and logic. A wide repertoire of problem-solving strategies prepares them for real-life mathematical tasks and scenarios.
Students’ abilities to record and communicate what they have learned is essential to full conceptual understanding. During each mathematics class students have opportunities to communicate their mathematical reasoning with one another and to their teachers. We believe that it is important for the students to learn from one another, as well as from their teachers. Such opportunities range from the casual, such as discussing a problem with the other children at one’s table, to the formal, such as forming a group to make a presentation on a math concept. When students talk about mathematics, they pose questions, take risks, and gain insight into their thinking. Students also communicate their ideas through legible, well-organized notations and drawings. Whether orally or in writing, teachers frequently ask the children to explain how they arrived at an answer. This communication process requires children to reflect on their methods, which in turn renders their ideas meaningful and permanent in their minds.