Doing the Math: Building a Foundation of Joyful and Authentic Math Learning for All Students

Read our new report "Doing the Math: Building a foundation of joyful and authentic math learning for all students". The report offers a fresh analysis of the issues surrounding foundational math - including a focus on the highest-leverage places for change - and spotlights models and immediate actions that offer clear strategies for equipping elementary teachers to enable authentic and joyful math learning for all students.

A strong grasp of math concepts at an early age is not only a foundational building block and a gateway to STEM learning, it’s also a major predictor of success later in school and in life. Teachers, proven to be the most important factor in a student’s in-school learning, are a critical lever to helping all kids get access to foundational math, especially in the elementary grades. They are positioned to help students connect with their natural curiosity and experience the joy of experimentation, problem-solving, and inquiry. 

However, we know that many elementary students do not experience math with joy and authenticity, nor do their teachers. Too few elementary teachers receive the training and support they need to deliver joyful and authentic instruction to their students. As a result, too many students lack opportunities for effective math learning.

Over two years, 100Kin10 developed the Grand Challenges, an unprecedented roadmap of the challenges underlying the STEM teacher shortage. Several of the issues identified on the Grand Challenges relate directly to foundational math, offering additional insight into how critical it is that we solve them. Our network is dedicated to solving the Grand Challenges and in particular the “catalysts”, the highest-leverage issues that, if improved, would generate a positive domino-like effect and most improvement across the system.

We began by focusing on three catalysts related to work environment for teachers in schools. (Learn more here.) We are now building on this progress by activating the network to improve foundational math proficiency. This effort centers on two catalysts that connect directly to foundational math: teacher preparation faculty who have expertise specifically in elementary STEM education and faculty modeling instructional strategies teachers will need to use in their classroom.

Our “Doing the Math” report is intended to lay the groundwork and be the launchpad for diverse, coordinated, and mutually reinforcing efforts to improve foundational math. We hope it will inspire you to think about where you can save energy and avoid recreating the wheel by building on the field’s existing knowledge, and then think about where there are problems that might need your particular expertise to help solve them. 

Beginning in the fall of 2019, 100Kin10 is actively catalyzing and coordinating activity around these issues. We invite you to join us. Together, we can equip elementary teachers to enable authentic and joyful math learning for all students.