Math and Career and Technology Education (CTE) teachers from within Pflugerville ISD and others from around Central Texas gathered at Hendrickson High School June 4-8 to learn how to teach a new class, and how to provide students with a new look into math.
Geometry in Construction is a high school-level class that was developed by three teachers in Loveland, Colorado in 2005. The teachers realized the principles of construction fit together perfectly with geometry, and when they taught the two curriculums together their students’ test grades were much higher. PISD board member Carol Fletcher saw them present their class at a conference four years ago, and she was convinced PISD needed the program.
“I would love for this program to be the model for the way we teach other classes,” Fletcher said, pointing out the connection between chemistry and cosmetology, algebra 2 and auto mechanics, and algebra 1 and business principles. “The idea that everything that students are doing is connected to a real-world, meaningful product is important.”
Fletcher, an Assistant Director for the Texas Regional Collaboratives (TRC) for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching program at the University of Texas, was convinced this was a program that would help students in Texas, so she contacted the company. She found funding through TRC to bring the trainers to Pflugerville, and they invited interested districts from around Central Texas to take part in the training.
Teachers and administrators from Elgin, Waller, Vernon, Southside, and a math teacher from the sheriff’s department who works with adult learners to obtain their GED all joined up with teachers from Hendrickson High School and Connally High School for the five-day training. They walked through the year’s curriculum, worked through the labs and even built a scale house in one morning.
At the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, Connally High School and Hendrickson High School will begin teaching Geometry in Construction. The program allows students to connect mathematic principles that are difficult to make sense of with real life projects.
“I think we discount the value of motivation, especially at the secondary level, in getting kids to be successful. There is no substitute for having a purposeful experience and taking pride in the final product,” Fletcher said. “A lot of kids who are book smart don’t have to capacity to translate that into the application. So when you put kids together in this environment, the kids who wouldn’t ordinarily shine in a regular classroom have the opportunity to really teach the others.”
PISD is adding the program as yet one more opportunity for students to develop real life skills that they will be able to take into the work force when they graduate high school.