Coming into the new school year, all JD students are expected to take a math class- and it might just be with 40 to 60 other people. Two classrooms, C110 and C112, have been opened up and combined into one “mega-classroom.” The room itself has four whiteboards, three televisions, a document camera, a multitude of desks, and plenty of teachers. Mr. Christiansen is the main person affected by this change as he is the new resident of the room, teaching Algebra II classes and co-teaching Geometry classes.
The decision to make larger math classes has been in the works for a long time. “The math department along with the administration was kicking the idea of a super classroom around all last year,” Mr. Christiansen said. “We collectively agreed that there were multiple benefits to taking such an approach,” Christansen continued. “It would help simplify and streamline the schedule for our biggest sectioned classes, ensure that all students in those classes would receive the same instruction without those classes being spread out among several teachers who may or may not be able to effectively collaborate to ensure a similar delivery in style and content,” Christiansen said. “We noticed a trend that students tended to have the biggest gains in their standardized test scores over the course of those two classes (Algebra 2 and Geometry), so we felt it was critical to try to create an equal field for all students in those classes and give them as many resources as possible for success, and on the other hand if students struggle throughout those two classes they tend to have a really hard time going forward in math,” Christiansen finished.
From a student’s standpoint, a class with nearly double the amount of people could be overwhelming, but maybe not for Junior Sienna Matinez-Huff. “The environment in class is super positive,” Junior Sienna Martinez-Huff said. “You would think that with a class of 61 kids would be loud and very talkative but surprisingly it isn’t,” Martinez-Huff continued. “I think it is easier to learn in Christiansen’s class because you are forced to pay attention. If you aren’t actively paying attention, you will get lost,” Martinez-Huff said. “You have more help because you have more teachers. So even if Christiansen is lecturing about a problem and you want to work ahead and you find something you don’t understand, you can raise your hand and another nice teacher will be there to help you,” Sienna Martinez-Huff continued. “This year I think I will be able to improve a lot because I really like how the class is structured,” Martinez-Huff concluded.
Along with the increased class size, there is an increased amount of teachers to help. “Almost the entire math department is involved in some way shape or form,” Mr. Christiansen said. “Myself, Mr. Trost, Ms. de Roda, Mr. Paulsen, Mr. Melonas, Ms. Alley, and quite a few of our upper level senior math CMTs are in the classes helping the students,” Christiansen finished.
Students seem to enjoy this extra help in the classes. “The environment is less stressful than I thought it would be. Knowing my math class would have 40 or more people in it, I got kind of nervous, but so far it’s been pretty cool,” Junior, Anthony Tibolla stated. “I think a big difference is that I always feel I can get help if I need it because there are so many teachers,” Tibolla finished. With often three or more teachers and aides in one class, the student to educator ratio is quite controlled, at 15 to 20 students per instructor.
Overall, the classes are well liked and contained. “So far, the only bummer is that the students aren’t laughing at all of the teachers high quality jokes,” said Christiansen. With the entire school year ahead, it is great to keep an open mind to the changing programs and what comes with them.