8th graders at Martin Middle School are staying engaged with high-energy math learning.
When Katie Freund, Middle School Math Teacher at Martin Middle School in Corpus Christi, Texas, was an economics major in college, she learned that math could be hands-on, rooted in the real world, and maybe even a little bit rowdy.
These early ideas can be seen, heard, and felt in Ms. Freund’s zone-out-proof classroom and penchant for loud learning.
Embracing the Mess With Hands-On Math
Ms. Freund, who has been using our TEA-approved Texas Math Solution in her classroom since the fall of 2022, knows that engagement is the first step in any student’s successful math education.
“For the learning to stick, they need to want to learn,” Ms. Freund says. “That’s one thing I like about Carnegie Learning. The activities are designed to get kids interested.”
Because she prioritizes collaborative, task-based learning, Ms. Freund says her students walk through her door excited to see what’s in store for them that day.
“It would be pretty hard to zone out in my classroom,” Ms. Freund laughs. “I’m thinking of a recent lesson from the book with sticks of uncooked spaghetti. We moved the pasta pieces as lines to demonstrate transformations. And today, there are beans all over my classroom floor because we were using them in a lesson on volume. Carnegie Learning encourages making a little bit of a mess. And not necessarily getting to the answer immediately because you were exploring first.”
Ms. Freund says that this focus on exploration and collaboration has helped build her students’ confidence and improved their overall enjoyment of math.
“My students really lean into the interactive parts of the curriculum. While it sometimes takes us a little longer to get through the content than it would in a traditional classroom, having the students be excited and alert for math class is the trade-off. I don’t have to worry about kids keeping their heads down on the table during our time together.”
Loud Math: Guided Discussions To Improve Understanding
Ms. Freund says that while the mathematical discussions embedded in the Texas Math Solution took a while for students to get used to, they now really enjoy discussing their ideas with each other.
“At first, during the discussions, the kids didn’t really know what to say,” Ms. Freund shares. “But as the year progressed and they learned more content, I can now ask things like, ‘What do we know so far?’ And they have a laundry list of things they can tell me about, for instance, a circle or a cone. They can also tell me what they notice, even when something is new.”
“I like loud learning,” Ms. Freund enthuses when asked how the discussions have changed her classroom. “I want kids to talk. I want them to come to class knowing that their voice is expected and respected.”
Active Learning Makes Every Student Feel Seen in Math Class
Ms. Freund also appreciates the Texas Math Solution’s inclusivity, which she sees as another reason the program builds engagement. Since it has many access points, it invites all students to participate—whether they’re low, average, or high performing. English language learners are also thriving!
“Because of the fun activities, my low performers aren’t lost anymore. They’re at least at the level of understanding the math, even if they’re not quite at the level of mastering multiple-choice questions. And that transformation is so cool to see.”
Ms. Freund is also seeing her higher-performing students rise to the challenge of understanding more complex mathematical concepts.
“My kids who did well last year are really stretching themselves, and I’ve even had a few tell me that things are too easy for them because they’re getting it so quickly. So I’ve been able to assign them more of the challenge problems within Carnegie Learning.”
“Just last week,” Ms. Freund continues, “I had a table of kids who worked through an activity and then said, ‘Miss, we’re done, and we thought that was too easy.’ And I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to give you two more questions. They’re not exactly what we’ve been doing, but I want you to try them.’ And I gave them ten minutes to work on those challenge questions while I worked with other students. And I heard them talking the whole time about how to work backward from volume to get a specific dimension. That level of engagement—which they were doing on their own—was really fun to watch.”
What’s Next for Ms. Freund’s Students?
In her second year implementing the Texas Math Solution, Ms. Freund is looking forward to having her students dig deeper into long-form projects where they can do more independent work and apply math to more real-world situations.
“Practical applications of math are what’s most interesting to me,” Ms. Freund shares. “And I want my students to see that math doesn’t have to just go away once they're done with math class.”
Ms. Freund is also excited to keep seeing her students’ confidence and engagement increase.
“So much of the first year is convincing students that they can do and understand the math,” Ms. Freund shares. “I’m looking forward to getting to a place where they don’t wonder if they can do it but rather start thinking about all the ways they can do it.”
Before joining Carnegie Learning’s marketing team in 2021, Emily Anderson spent 16 years teaching middle school, high school, and college English in classrooms throughout Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, and Minnesota. During these years, Emily developed a passion for designing exciting, relatable curricula and developing transformative teaching strategies. She holds master's degrees in English and Women’s Studies and a doctorate in American literature and lives for those classroom moments when students learn something that will forever change them. She loves helping amazing teachers achieve more of these moments in their classrooms.Explore more related to this author
Carnegie Learning encourages making a little bit of a mess. And not necessarily getting to the answer immediately because you were exploring first.
Katie Freund, 8th-grade math teacher, Corpus Christi ISD