Teachers learn Geometry in Construction curriculum

It’s not quite back-to-school time yet, but a group of educators from across Michigan spent a rainy Tuesday hitting the books.

It was the first day of a four-day Geometry in Construction training workshop for teachers interested in bringing the unique curriculum to their classrooms. Math and Career Technical Education teachers from eight U.P. schools and one from the Lower Peninsula made their way to Marquette to gain first-hand experience with the tenets of the program. One aspect teachers learn throughout the course is how to present math problems by starting with the most difficult part.

“In math world, they would call that ‘problem set C,’ or the story problem,” said Scott Burke, an educator and co-founder of the Geometry in Construction program. “That’s kind of the advanced way of doing that. What’s different here is that we basically start with something really difficult to get going, so we throw that story problem at them – not the story problem, but the actual real-world scenario in our case with the Career and Technical Ed. side – and then we go backwards to basic math. So it’s a completely 180 degree shift of how math is actually delivered.”

“I think any time you can put math in action, you’re going to get the kids hooked on it, because math is really boring when you don’t do anything aside from worksheets,” said Becky Arbic, a math teacher from the Sault Area High School in Sault Ste. Marie. “So to get the kids doing stuff with math to see that it really is cool, and you can do awesome stuff with it, is going to get them to buy in.”

“What this entire training is designed to do is to connect what students are learning in the classroom with the real world, and that’s the power in this curriculum,” Marquette Alger RESA CTE Director Brian Sarvello said.

Teachers are also given lessons on cooperative grouping and team building, and they are encouraged to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between their fields.

“The beautiful part about this is that both teacher groups are going to be able to walk in the other person’s group and gain an appreciation for what types of things they each individually face in the current trend of education nationally,” Burke added.

The workshop was sponsored by the Eagle Mine, and organizers hope it will help U.P. teachers be among the first in Michigan to adopt the curriculum.