Metro area teachers focus on improving math lessons

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Some metro area educators are trying to get students and teachers to think differently about math.

In the last decade, math scores have remained flat in our nation's report card while many countries, experts say, have been gaining.

This week, a dozen districts from Gretna to Bellevue examined different ways of teaching high school math.

At Bellevue East High School, teacher Tina Holbrook is leading the way in algebra one.

What is different about this class in her 20 years of teaching is that teachers are sitting in the back of the class, taking notes and observing what works and what doesn’t.

Dr. Martha Bruckner is the executive director of the Metropolitan Omaha Education Consortium.

“It’s a conversation level that’s never occurred before,” she said.

Bruckner is leading the way as 12 school districts, community colleges and the University of Nebraska at Omaha work on the best practices to get math to stick.

Their goal is so students don’t forget what they learned in high school and have to retake classes at the next level.

“If we have more students ready to succeed at math in college, they're going to save money. They're going to succeed quicker,” she said.

Until today, the math teachers have been developing the plans with their peers.

But this is the first time they've taken the changes straight into the classroom with other teachers watching.

Gretna teacher Sarah Benzel said she’s done such activities for a long time but never this.

Gretna and Weeping Water math teachers tackled geometry.

Another Gretna teacher said the kids bought into it knowing the importance of the activity -- instead of hurrying up and getting done with it and moving on.

The observations from the other teachers here at Bellevue East -- the freshman and sophomores weren't shy about asking for help from each other and were engaged most of the 47-minute class.

Some worked hard at defending their answer, even if it was wrong.

All encouraging signs according to the observers.

The big takeaway to share -- the teachers and students are trying to solve a big problem together.

The high school and college collaboration is also tackling other issues -- such as early literacy.