We spend a lot of time thinking about what, when, and how students learn best. But where is just as important. Students participating in Teach to One: Math learn in an environment that is carefully designed to create a positive, inspirational, and fun environment for learning.
Every Math Center is different. Some are large open spaces divided into learning stations, while others are comprised of smaller adjacent rooms. They have different layouts and an assortment of furniture styles, but what they all have in common is an overarching theme for the space.
The themes are unique and intentional, created with teachers to reinforce the school’s culture and vision. In every TTO Math Center, classrooms are divided into different areas to support different types of learning including collaborative spaces, independent learning and teacher-led instruction. Every learning space in the center has a thematic name so that students will know where to report for their lessons each day.
At Hale Junior High in Tulsa, the teachers designed an Ivy League University-themed space because they wanted to give students a daily reminder of what is possible through hard work. “Many of our students come into Hale not knowing what Ivy League Universities are, much less the schools that make up the network,” Math Director Luke Rose says. “By having the highest level schools in the country be the face of our classrooms, Hale students are more aware of the opportunities they have, and the expectation of college is visually cued by math center signs and flags on a daily basis.”
Other schools have named their learning spaces after teachers’ alma maters or colleges and universities located in their home state. Many teaching teams also recognize the potential for Teach to One spaces to serve as a fun and exciting place for students to come and learn every day. Taos Middle School chose baseball for their theme, based on favorite teams; LEARN Romano Butler in Chicago went with a comic book theme by naming their spaces after superhero cities like Gotham and Metropolis.
At Gray Elementary school, also in Chicago, there is an intergalactic theme, where rooms are named after planets. It was a spin-off from an oft-used classroom motto (“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”) and aligned with a vision to make learning mathematics fun, says Roman Blair, Senior Site Operations Manager in Chicago. “Science and math go hand in hand, and many mathematical discoveries were fueled by a need to understand our place in the solar system and universe. The names are also fun, easy to pronounce, and to remember,” he says.
Take a look at some other TTO themes from around our network!
Bear Creek Middle School
Location: Fairburn, Georgia
Theme: Local Colleges and Universities
Names: Georgia State University, Clayton State University, Howard University, Harvard University, Spelman, Georgia Tech, Emory, Valdosta, Michigan, Morehouse, Xavier, Ohio State, West Point, Albany State, Clark Atlanta, FAMU, UVI, UGA, Stanford, Kennesaw State, Savannah State
McLain Junior and Senior High School
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Theme: Missions to Space, Moons
Names: Apollo, Discovery, Mercury, Columbia; Titan, Io, Nix, Mimas, Tethys, Callisto, Titania. “Mission Control” is used for our common planning each day.
“For our High School rooms, we decided to go with names of moons as an extension of our existing space theme. We like to think if our middle school rooms are missions to the moon, then the next level should be the moons themselves. Each room will have a color for personalization as well. We have also found that the colors help students distinguish both the rooms and the teachers more easily.” -Elizabeth Noordyke, Math Director