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  • Trey Adams

It all adds up

Updated: Sep 6

Last week, some of our first graders participated in an early math (and science) activity by sorting M&Ms and then adding them up. There are a variety of good pedagogical techniques at work in this lesson. Sorting is an executive functioning skill, and loads of research has shown that executive functioning skills developed in the primary grades lead to future academic success. Using manipulatives for instructional activities accesses the strengths of kinesthetic learners. Connecting the manipulation with math instruction elevates the activity with interventions that combat learning challenges (Morgan, et al, 2015).


"The candies act as addends to help students grasp the concept of sum," shared Mrs. Lisa Skeeters '81,P'20. Manipulative-based instruction continues throughout lower school to support student learning. "Plus, it's always fun to do the activity right before snack and then consume the manipulatives."


I hosted a lunch with the freshmen on Thursday where several shared with me that their favorite course was math lab. The new course emerged from departmental review to support struggling math students, either due to post-pandemic learning gaps or natural developmental challenges that occur from middle to upper school. For students enrolled in math lab, performance increased an average of 30 percentage points over two early assessments. "In addition to reviewing what they missed, we use the Delta Math app which creates new practice problems aligned with student challenge areas," shared Mrs. Martha Dalton, course instructor. Mrs. Dalton has experience working in math tutoring programs like Mathnasium and presented the Delta Math program to the math department as a research-based model and frequent topic of discussion in NCTM list_servs.


The pandemic taught us that technology is not a replacement for the classroom teacher. Computers, tablets, phones, and other devices (along with their capabilities) are tools, just like a pencil... or a pack of M&Ms. Teachers are professionals with expertise and training to envision how candy can be handy or an app can fill gaps.


Finally, here are some items to consider:

  • Regarding faculty-parent-friend community, I hope that you will join us for the September Shindig. Click here to purchase tickets.

  • Regarding the extended care program, please complete a short survey to indicate your interest in after-school programming in the arts, sports, and academic enrichment.

  • Regarding new preschool and lower school families, our New Parent Coffee with the Head of School has been moved to Friday, September 9 at 8:30 a.m.

  • Regarding middle school, students will be participating in the 9/11 Day of Service this Friday, volunteering in the Shands neighborhood around school. Complete the permission slip!

  • Regarding all grade levels, make plans to attend the Southampton County Heritage Day events this Saturday! Click here for a list of times and events.




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