Focusing on the M in STEM: Preparing for Math Exams

Most students in the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering are studying for either Algebra I (Honors) or Geometry (Honors) exams to be taken this Wednesday. These mid-term exams will test their knowledge on all the content covered since the start of the school year. While the academy students are in middle school, which does not have exams, because the math classes are for high school credit, they require exams. To prepare for the exams, we have used a thick review guide provided by the math department in each class, and we had IXL strands for each unit. My approach has been to show the students how to break down this review into two or three day units, each of which is checked and covered before we move on to the next unit. The responsibility is mainly on the students, as I post my solutions to each unit of the review and let the students check their work against mine. Today we covered the last unit, and I am very proud of the students’ efforts to keep up with work and do a thorough job of review.

Focusing on math means that our usual approach of integrating all STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) classes has not been as strong as usual. Therefore, I have used this time instead to focus on how to apply what we have done for the math exam review as a model for other, future big projects. Big projects usually can be broken into smaller parts, each of which is easier to tackle and manage than the project as a whole. After we finish exams, I will ask the students to reflect on what they learned throughout this process so that they can get the maximum benefit from the experience. Here are photos of both 7th graders in Algebra and 8th graders in Geometry as they study and review in class:


Author: Bryan Holmes, Physics & Math Teacher, STEM Competition Mentor

Starting at Thomaston High School in Thomaston, Connecticut, in fall of 2018.

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