Back to BlogOne Stone High School: The Teacher-Student Connection

Meet Viveca, Student at One Stone High School

One Stone is a place for diversity and acceptance where students and coaches come together to make education a fun and innovative experience.

The relationship between the students and coaches at One Stone makes learning here a unique experience. Before coming to One Stone, I never felt confident in math, and I believed I could never be good at it, even if I tried. Once I started at One Stone, I began to see that math isn’t just numbers and letters, but patterns that you need to find for yourself. I have had help from my math coaches to see that I don't have to be a genius to be good at math. I’ve realized that our system is special and works to help students like me feel more confident and not worry about getting questions wrong.

One Stone has created a math program where the students and coaches work together to learn in such a way that everyone involved is interested and excited about what they are being taught.

Some of the One Stone classes are physics, algebra, statistics, and geometry. Although these seem like basic high school math classes, they were created by the students and coaches to make them more relevant to life. Because the students have just as much voice as the coaches do, students give coaches feedback about what they are interested in, which helps the coaches create the ideal math class for a single student or for a group. Students who want a different math class than those that are regularly offered will work with a coach to create their own essential learning objectives. This creates an opening where the student is able to guide their own learning through independent work and the help of a math coach.

I took a math class where I created a project showing how math is used in different aspects of life. I chose to explore how physics and ballet correlate with each other to explain how the human body can do ballet. One of the dance moves I chose as an example is the fouette turn. This turn is a pirouette that uses the leg itself to keep the dancer spinning. By adding physics, I learned that by doing two pirouettes in one turn, the dancer is able to spin with a good initial balance so that they can turn longer. Working both independently and with the support of a coach helped me to learn at my own pace. I did not have to feel rushed or left behind, and I did not have to wait for others to catch up.

At One Stone, a coach will give students some problems to work through and hints on strategies they can use to solve the problems. This helps to achieve the goal of student driven learning, where the students teach themselves. And when they get stuck on a problem, the coach will guide the student through the steps on how to solve the problem without giving them the answers. So, the student still has to do everything to solve the problem. This makes it possible for the student to learn how to solve similar problems in the future.

Students don’t receive grades for their work. Instead, students receive coach feedback through discussions during the course and written evaluations at the end of the course on what they did well and what they can improve on. This makes it possible for students to work at their own pace and to encourage their friends to go past their limits. When we get our assignments handed back to us, there will be corrections made on our answers to show where we got it wrong and give us hints on how to get it right. This allows the student to work through the wrong answer and figure out the right one. This especially helps me because without grades, I don’t feel embarrassed by how many questions I got wrong, and I feel more inclined to ask my peers how to solve a question.

I have had the same math coach for two years at One Stone, and she has helped me to become better at math, not because I memorized formulas or did the same type of problem over and over. I have become better in math because I don’t feel as insecure in myself, and I have started to ask more questions and really pay attention. One Stone is an environment where math coaches and students treat each other as equals. Without this, there would be no foundation to build upon to create math classes that are styled for the students to grow. I have found myself being more confident when solving math equations. One Stone teaches that you don’t have to be perfect in math to be confident in math.

Allison, Math Coach at One Stone High School

Equality of voice is a core One Stone value and forms the foundation for relationships between students and coaches. As we shared in our last blog post, our math program began with conversations with students, but those conversations didn’t stop after the initial ones were done.

A major component of student/coach relationships is collaboration, and this is absolutely true in our math program. Every student is asked to fill out a survey to give feedback on their math courses and coaches at the end of every term. We ask for input on what the students liked and didn’t like, where they felt they grew, and what they might like to see next time. By being asked to give feedback, students are active drivers of their education. They are asked to think critically about what is working for them and what isn’t.

As coaches, we make it a point to communicate with students about their feedback and let them know when ideas or changes are being implemented based on their input. This helps them to understand that their input is valuable and to feel empowered to discuss their ideas with us throughout the year so that we can tailor projects to their interests.

For example, a large group of students was interested in ecology, so we developed a three week deep dive exploring biodiversity through the lens of mathematics. We used probability to explore a population’s allele frequencies; we used logistic, exponential, and linear equations to model population growth; and we analyzed real data to investigate what factors might be contributing to biodiversity loss amongst Hawaiian birds. Through their work, students even collaborated with me to create our own experiment to model population loss and growth using the Lincoln-Petersen index.

Through all of this, we are encouraging students to recognize that math is a tool and that they are free to use it to explore the world, even if they aren’t exactly sure how. The important thing is that, when we are at our best, what we are doing is driven by student interest. When we are truly listening to students about what they are interested in and helping them explore that through mathematics, we are making mathematics relevant and useful.

Click here to read the companion post to this piece by Sarah Galasso of Carnegie Learning.

- Viveca Beall
- Student
- One Stone High School

Viveca is a junior who decided to go to One Stone HIgh School to have more control in her learning. When she first came to One Stone, math was her least favorite class, but now she finds more enjoyment in the subject each time she takes a math course. As a person with an active imagination, One Stone has helped Viveca to solidify her thoughts and ideas into a more concrete form.

Explore more related to this author- Allison Parker
- Math Coach
- One Stone High School

Allison joined One Stone after practicing patent law at Hawley Troxell in Boise. Prior to her law career, she worked in outdoor education at the Boojum Institute for Experiential Education in California and the School of Urban and Wilderness Survival in Shoshone, Idaho. Allison has a bachelor of arts in studio arts and a bachelor of science in biology from the Evergreen State College and a J.D. from the University of Idaho. At One Stone, Allison directs the Advisory program and works with students to explore math and law.

Explore more related to this author- March 25, 2019

I have had the same math coach for two years at One Stone, and she has helped me to become better at math, not because I memorized formulas or did the same type of problem over and over. I have become better in math because I don’t feel as insecure in myself, and I have started to ask more questions.

Viveca Beall, Student, One Stone High School