Community, Featured, News

Professor takes different approach to elementary math

School of Education professor Jennifer Langer-Osuna lead a session of her after-school math club at West Lab Elementary School on Tuesday March 11.  UM reconnected with the nearby elementary school when Langer-Osuna took on the title of Professor in Residence and began her math club research project. Monica Herndon // Photo Editor

School of Education professor Jennifer Langer-Osuna lead a session of her after-school math club at West Lab Elementary School on Tuesday March 11. UM reconnected with the nearby elementary school when Langer-Osuna took on the title of Professor in Residence and began her math club research project. Monica Herndon // Photo Editor

A new after-school program that aims to make math education more effective and enjoyable has reconnected UM with a local elementary school.

Jennifer Langer-Osuna, a School of Education professor, is working on a research project at West Lab Elementary School that looks into how kids work together to solve math problems. The School of Education wanted to rekindle the relationship with West Lab after a few years of inactivity.

After months of development, the first weekly session for the math club was held Feb. 18.

Langer-Osuna provides the students with complex math problems that come from the Learning Math through Representations (LMR) curriculum.  This curriculum takes the emphasis off the traditional means of learning math, and involves more physical activity.

“It makes math more interesting. It makes math more social,” she said.

Langer-Osuna, a professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, adjusted the curriculum to focus on interaction between the students. The group work is structured for each student to have a specific role in the problem solving so no student misses out or is neglected by the group or the teacher, regardless of skill level.

“So all kids see themselves as having something to say mathematically, and they see each other as having something to say,”  she said.

Langer-Osuna started as professor in residence at West Lab this fall. The school is located on the edge of campus behind Mahoney-Pearson Residential College. It serves 278 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

When teachers work at West Lab, they have specific projects. When they leave the school, they take their projects with them, and neither the project nor the relationship continues. Langer-Osuna is now rekindling that relationship as the school’s professor in residence.

According to Beth Harry, the chair of the Teaching and Learning Department in the School of Education, the student teacher program resumed placements at West Lab this year as well.

Education doctoral student Edwing Medina is working with Langer-Osuna on the project. He is excited to work with the West Lab students.

“So often in academia we’re stuck in the theory and then the schools, day to day, are stuck in the practice, so the lab schools allow you to kind of merge the two,” Medina said.

According to Langer-Osuna, education schools across the country often have laboratory schools where innovative teaching models are tested and new teachers are trained.

The West Lab School is a special case because it’s a public school, and the students are held to the same standards as the rest of Miami-Dade County.

After about three years of development, Langer-Osuna would like to be able to offer suggestions to regular teachers about her more effective math education model. Medina looks forward to applying the program to more diverse populations.

“There’s a great need for young children to learn math in settings other than the classroom and to participate in math-focused activities that are fun as well as educational,” Harry said.

March 19, 2014

Reporters

Monica Herndon


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

A six-pack of Canes notes on a Thursday: ▪ You know when you will know the Hurricanes are really bac ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday: ▪ The Canes find themselves in the mix for a couple o ...

It was May 2015, and the Miami Herald was reporting for a feature on high school football players ab ...

Deidrick Stanley had his eye on the Miami Hurricanes long before his hometown school finally offered ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday: ▪ UM has only two Rivals.com five-star recruits on the ...

The 2019 NFL draft begins tonight from Nashville, Tennessee, and continues through Saturday with sev ...

The final concrete slabs for the 25 interconnected buildings of the newly named Lakeside Village are ...

A former UM professor started a company dedicated to publishing books on African-American culture, h ...

A group of School of Architecture students visited the Caribbean nation to learn about the historic ...

Faculty with the Miller School of Medicine and Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science w ...

Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team won ACC Player of the Year for the seco ...

Sophomore Adria Soriano Barrera earned second team accolades for the second straight season, while f ...

The Miami track and field program is set to compete at the Tom Jones Memorial meet this weekend for ...

The No. 24 Hurricanes welcome ACC Coastal division foe Virginia Tech for a three-game series beginni ...

Miami and adidas today unveiled the first-ever baseball jerseys made from Parley Ocean Plastic. ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.