Teachers from General Johnnie Wilson and Longfellow middle schools in Lorain gathered Feb. 11 for a staff professional development day to learn total participation techniques in math for grades 6-8.
During the workshop, teachers learned hands-on strategies to engage students in math.
Staci McDaniel, dean of academics at Garfield Elementary School in Lorain, taught the workshop.
McDaniel said the goal was to help teachers engage their students and make math fun.
“I think of myself as a kid,” she said. “I was rowdy and I didn’t like to sit still. I wanted to develop and teach techniques that could help kids understand the subject and have fun.”
One of the exercises included McDaniel giving teachers the opportunity to try learning short division, a math technique they didn’t know.
“I wanted to give teachers a chance to see new skills and problems with a student’s lens,” she said.
To teach short division, McDaniel introduced a new technique she uses called “do and undo.”
“I use this technique because the first time students work through the problem and get the answer,” she said. “The second time they do the problem, they know the answer, but they’re practicing the procedure.”
McDaniel has taught math techniques such as hand movements, body movements, line dances and songs across the country.
Closer to home, she said she has significantly improved the grades of her students at Garfield.
“In one year, our scores shot up,” McDaniel said. “Third grade went from 48.6% to 75%, fourth jumped from 35.5% to 65.9% which was a huge increase.”
McDaniel said she knew if she could improve the scores of her elementary school students she could help improve math scores in the district.
“I came up with most of these techniques," she said. "They can be changed to fit the needs of the students, but overall, achieve the same outcome.”
McDaniel said she wants to push educators to finding solutions that fit the needs of their students.
She said the students are capable of learning, she said.
“I struggled finding something that works," McDaniel said. "But I did it. We don’t give excuses; we need to help our students.”