Discovering Young Math Prodigies at Seven Oaks School District

3 minutes

Earlier this year, Manitoba’s Seven Oaks School District organized a teacher’s reading club with the help of its Associate Superintendent, Matt Henderson. The group was focused around one book in particular— “All Things being Equal: Why Math is the Key to a Better World”, by Dr. John Mighton, Founder of JUMP Math. Following the reading, members of the group became highly interested in the potential of JUMP Math’s unique approach to help their students with understanding math and they were eager to learn more.

Mr. Henderson contacted JUMP Math to arrange a series of webinars to further discuss the methodologies, research, and success behind its K-8 core math program. Following these discussions, seven schools decided to pilot the program. Dr. Mighton visited the district to meet with teachers and principals and teach demonstration lessons with their Grades 1-8 classes.

Many schools at Seven Oaks have a high Indigenous population and regularly engage in community events, such as their graduation Pow Wow and Treaty Day Assembly for National Indigenous People’s Day. Even in the best of circumstances, some students fall behind in math and lose sight of their true abilities. The pandemic has caused significant learning gaps for all students in math, but this has been more pronounced in Indigenous communities, given pre-existing educational and social inequities.

Pandemic-related learning loss has also caused a decrease in student confidence and more students are struggling than ever before. JUMP Math’s Confidence Building lessons are designed to address this problem, actively boosting student confidence by building foundational skills and concepts that help them catch up.

Educators are now teaching classes where there can be up to a four-grade difference in ability between students. One of our many goals has been to support and equip teachers with the best tools to accelerate student learning.

So far we’ve been very impressed by the way Seven Oakes teachers collaborate in planning lessons and by the level of thought and effort they put into making the math come alive. During Dr. Mighton’s time there, students were “extremely engaged in the lessons” and were “willing to try problems that looked hard to them”. He observed a significant increase in confidence and communication as classes progressed:

“At the start of one of my lessons, I asked students to let me know if they didn’t understand something in the lesson and I would teach it again. The students weren’t shy about doing this at all. They were particularly excited about discovering mathematical ideas and tackling sequences of problems that got incrementally harder. One boy, who struggled with place value, was proud to show off when he learned to read big numbers—he would yell out “bring it on!” when I increased the length of the numbers. In another class, students were extremely excited about patterns they discovered in the times tables. At one point, when I helped them see a pattern in the seven times table, the students shouted things like “Get out!” and “No way.”

Dr. Mighton emphasizes that the philosophy behind JUMP Math is that every child is capable of succeeding in math. The approach allows for teachers to bring everyone in the class along together, despite differences in learning levels.

Students were not alone in their excitement for JUMP Math. Educators and members of the board were feeling energized by what they had learnt, Mr. Henderson reported that the overall class response was very enthusiastic:

“Wow! John Mighton was really firing things up with learners at OV Jewitt. Learners doing the thinking. Immediate feedback to drive things forward. Oh, the collective effervescence!” One student said, ‘I’m showing my Mom this’”, another yelled ‘I can go to college!’”

November marked Dr. Mighton’s second visit to the Seven Oaks School District, with more to come in the new year. 

To learn more about employing the JUMP Math approach in your classroom or community, please visit: www.jumpmath.org or contact: communications@jumpmath.org.