Collaboration + creativity = effective learning for all.
people talking to each other with math symbols
Melinda Knapp
Melinda Knapp,
Elementary Education Program Coordinator, Senior Instructor

The one-size-fits-all model for teaching math can leave some children feeling frustrated and unable to catch up. That’s why Melinda Knapp created the Math Lab — a collaborative program between OSU-Cascades and the Crook County School District that helps teachers cater to a variety of learners.

Through the use of visuals and guided discussion, students can focus on understanding concepts instead of memorizing equations without meaning.

The best way to discover effective teaching methods is to try them out, ask questions, refine and try again. Located in the classroom with students and other teachers present, the Math Lab allows instructors to present different methods — like using cookies to explain a problem or drawing dots to help kindergartners understand whether two numbers are equal. Teachers can call on their colleagues if they get stuck, analyze student responses and brainstorm new or slightly altered teaching strategies following each session.

Data on the Math Lab program is still coming in, but results so far show positive outcomes. Students are gaining confidence and understanding math concepts better by discussing with each other how they arrived at their answers. And teachers have discovered new ways to encourage independent critical thinking. No matter how you learn math, that’s clearly a plus.

“We work to broaden the view about what competency looks like in math. Speed and accuracy has been the narrow definition of success in mathematics in the past, and we are attempting to help administrators, teachers and students realize being good at math is so much more.”

Melinda Knapp | Elementary Education Program Coordinator
College of Education | OSU-Cascades

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