Every class starts each day at P.S. 249, the Caton School, in Brooklyn, with a 45-minute period of math practice—from kindergarten to fifth grade. In the first half, students review concepts they learned previously, and then they jump into solving the problem of the day, a complex multistep problem that relates to their current unit. Students work independently, then review their work together as a group, which allows them to make their thinking visible, share out different ways of approaching the problem, and use all their math vocabulary.
All of this is data-driven and crafted by the school’s teachers: Grade-level teacher teams work together each week to assess what standards students need more work on, using the previous week’s math review worksheets, quizzes, and exit tickets as sources of data. They then design math review worksheets for the week ahead, as well as pick one extra-juicy problem for each day.
This additional period of practicing math is paying off: The Caton School was the top math performer in their district in the 2022–23 school year, with 76 percent of students proficient or higher, an increase of 15 percentage points over the year before—and doubling down on math has built a community of enthusiastic and creative math thinkers there.