BRAWLEY – The Brawley Union High School District board heard a presentation from Guillermo Mendieta who has been working with the BUHS math department since last January. He was hired to improve BUHS’s math score, their math teaching, and student’s conceptual learning in math.
Guillermo Mendieta published his first mathematics book at the age of eighteen while earning his bachelors of science in pure mathematics at Louisiana State University. He is currently the director of Meaningful Learning, an organization of award-winning teachers and administrators working with low-performing schools to improve mathematics achievement. During the last fifteen years Mr. Mendieta has been the director of several mathematics initiatives with The Achievement Council in Los Angeles, California. He has taught mathematics at all grades from sixth-grade through college level and has served as a mathematics coach for several schools throughout California.
His hands on approach of teaching teachers new dynamic ways to reach this high tech, media driven generation has been widely embraced by the math department.
“Teachers have been given I Pads with an app that allows them to make videos introducing the day’s lesson. This is how you engage the youth of today.” Mendieta told the board. “It is visual, not just memorized formulas.”
Another improvement Mendieta, the board, and math department instituted was students being placed in strategic classrooms during the tutorial period to prepare them for the California exit math examination (CAHSEE-Math) that all seniors must pass to graduate.
Four main classroom gains were observed by the math department following Mendieta’s coaching:
- Teachers are spending more time on developing student’s conceptual understanding rather than on simply memorizing procedures.
- Teachers are monitoring student understanding more frequently and effectively with the use of the math instructional templates.
- Students are more engaged and on task – with the aid of learning math games
- And the teachers are making more connections to how concepts are related to the students’ lives and how these concepts are used in the real world.
One of the challenges for the math department, along with all the core departments at the high school, is realigning their curriculum and teaching with the upcoming “Common Core Standards” that the State of California is replacing over the current “California Standards”.