For an entire school year Jordan VanderVeen’s AP Calculus class at Lynden High School diligently works to solve problems and prepare for the AP test. Once that May test occurs, the students switch gears to helping others problem-solve, heading to Lynden Middle School to work with younger students in math.
The students don’t do this just once but spend the final three weeks of the school year side-by-side with the middle schoolers. “This opportunity allows my high school students to abstract from solving problems to problem-solving,” VanderVeen says. “My students are learning about mathematical practices that apply universally across mathematical content.”
It doesn’t go unnoticed, from either set of students.
“It’s really cool that we can come as high schoolers and interact with the younger grades,” says LHS senior Amanda Schulyman, “showing them how math applies to everything, developing critical thinking and just using our brains.”
Olivia Castaneda, another LHS student, says the sixth-grade students she’s worked with are quite smart, but she’s able to provide guidance through hard problems and once they get a handle on the situation, they only need a little bit of support.
“It’s fun because we get help if we actually need it,” says sixth-grader Lexi Anderson. “We’re learning about strategizing and finding patterns.” Classmate Anastasia Primbas says it has been a great experience and boosted her self-confidence. LHS junior Jesse Stewart says he gets just as much enjoyment simply helping the younger students develop their skills.
Some of the high schoolers take a view larger than math. “This experience gives us an opportunity to leave a legacy to the younger generation as we leave Lynden Schools,” says senior Alex Matthews. Ethan Williams agrees, saying he enjoys helping the next generation think for themselves and problem-solve.
VanderVeen has been connecting the high school students with middle schoolers since the 2015-2016 school year, enjoying the practical conclusion to an intensely academic class each school year.
“I’m learning,” says LHS senior Santiago Lopez, “how to interact and help the younger generation develop their mathematical thinking.”