This is Not Your Parents' Math: Learning to Think Like a Mathematician
When I was in elementary and middle school, math was scary to me. Like many of us, I was taught to memorize problems and equations, but I never really had a deep understanding of what they were about. I never learned that math is a language--a way of communicating that has real meaning behind its numbers. And, as with all languages, learning to understand is fundamental.

As you will read below, our students develop a deep understanding of math by engaging with it in real world contexts and building number sense and fluency in the language of math. Put simply, they learn to think like mathematicians.

I've often thought about how I would view math had I been taught the way we teach it at High Meadows. Not only would I be able to retrieve memorized material when I need it, but I would have a sense of the meaning behind the numbers. I might have developed additional strategies to use math in real-world contexts.  And, ultimately, I might not have been afraid of it. 

Enjoy this issue,

Jay Underwood
Head of School
Kindergarten/First grade students play a math card game which is a fun way to help them understand math concepts.
When you were growing up, your math learning likely consisted of memorizing facts and practicing procedures the teacher demonstrated for what seemed like a million times. Your homework assignments probably were something like this: "Do the even problems, 1-100, on page 23 of the math text book." Today, math education has shifted from teaching the "history of mathematics" - the procedures that someone else discovered works every time - to having children "do" mathematics and think like a mathematician.
High Meadows students like these fifth graders work independently and in groups to discuss, question, and refine strategies for solving math problems.
"We want students to get a true understanding of the number system by building their number sense," said Lori Kennedy, Lower Years Assistant Principa l. "We want them to think flexibly with numbers, seeking patterns and strategies that always work, and be able to share how they are thinking through numbers and models. Developing nu mber sense gives students more confidence as well as the foundational understandings for the simple arithmetic in elementary classrooms and the more complex mathematics down the line. "
Exploring Why Math Strategies Work
Kennedy recommends parents read "A Parent's Guide to Understanding Math Education in Today Schools" by Cathrine Kellison and Catherine Twomey Fosnot. The authors explain 's  that to help students develop number sense, teachers should encourage them to explore WHY procedures work, to find various strategies for solving a problem, and to examine each strategy for its efficiency. They work closely with students, both one-on-one and in groups, to discuss, question, and refine their strategies. 
Preschool students work on developing their number sense, a key part of building math fluency. 
Teaching this way supports students working collaboratively to look at options, exchange ideas, and develop ways to communicate and defend their ideas, the authors note. It also helps them persevere in solving problems and appreciate puzzlement and the fun of 'cracking' a problem. These are key skills students need to practice so they are prepared for higher education and ultimately the working world.

Math education today makes the mathematical connection between classroom ideas and the real world in which children, teachers and families live and work. It also emphasizes clever mental math computation and focuses to a lesser degree on pencil and paper arithmetic strategies. Finally, it encourages children to model problems, for example with arrays, ratio tables, and number lines.
Building Numerical Fluency
"When I was learning math, the intent of continually practicing was to build efficiency and mathematical fluency," Kennedy said. "This new framework for math instruction helps students understand math concepts which leads to easier fluency."
In their book "Developing Numerical Fluency", authors Patsy Kanter and Steven Leinwand explain that numerical fluency is:
  • about understanding, not memorization
  • supported by fingers, pictures, and all sorts of materials - multiple representations that best fit individual students' conceptions
  • develops when students communicate their understandings and construct and share their strategies
  • developed much more through engaging tasks and activities with rich questions and student discourse than through endless practice.
How to Support Your Child in Learning Mathematics
Parents can learn more about how math is now being taught and why.
To better support your child at home, Kennedy recommends parents learn more about numerical fluency themselves and how math is now being taught.
"A Parent's Guide to Understanding Math Education in Today's Schools" is written by the authors of the math curriculum
Contexts for Learning Mathematics that we use at High Meadows in the Lower Years program," she said. "It offers tips on helping children with math, information that may strengthen your own math, and examples of both the language and mathematical models we use in the classroom. It's a great resource for parents to understand the importance of children building their number sense and fluency versus just memorizing facts and practicing problems repetitively."
Focus on High Meadows' Guiding Principle: Understanding and Respect

Through their actions, children seek belonging and significance; they deserve understanding and respect. 

'He's Happy and Learning, So That Means We're Happy!" - A Mom's Perspective on Her Son's Kindergarten Journey
When their son Edward was in preschool last year, Sarah and Drew Gibbons discussed what type of education they wanted him to experience. They agreed that they wanted a school that offered:
  • A strong academic program that challenges and engages
  • Support for their son's social/emotional development
  • Teachers that would get to know their son, understand his strengths and weaknesses, and help him develop academically and socially
  • A place where outside time was more than just a 20-minute recess and included outdoor learning
The Gibbons family chose High Meadows Kindergarten for their son Edward and have had a few amazing surprises.
Armed with their list, the Gibbonses visited their local public school, a math and science charter school, and High Meadows School.
"Right away we saw that High Meadows had a positive energy and spirit where kids were excited to learn and participate," Sarah said. "The teachers were very engaged with the kids who were actively learning, not doing worksheets. We knew it was the place for our son."
Ultimately, Edward started Kindergarten at High Meadows this school year. His parents couldn't be happier with the positive experience he has had and noted a few surprises that have amazed them.
"The first four months of Kindergarten have been what we hoped for and have had some positive surprises," Sarah said. "At the beginning of the school year, we went to the Kindergarten Hopes and Fears conference with Edward's teachers. We shared that one of our goals for him was to grow socially. It's been night and day for him since then. He ran for classroom mayor and won! We couldn't have imagined him ever putting himself out there like that before. It's been great to see him come out of his shell."
Sarah shared that Edward enjoys the classroom community and working on teams in class. He feels comfortable and motivated to contribute to class activities and let his opinion be known. She also noted that he has been inspired academically and particularly enjoys learning math.
"The way they teach math - he gets it," she said. "He understands the math versus just learning facts. It makes sense to him. We played a game the other day, and he used the estimation skills he's learning to solve one of the parts of the game. He's learning and happy at High Meadows, so that means we're happy! In a few years, we hope to enroll our three-year-old daughter Margaret in the Kindergarten program so she can experience all the wonders too."

Three Characteristics the Best Private Schools Share

Finding the private school that fits the needs of your child and your family requires lots of research and school visits. However, knowing that top private schools share some common characteristics can be helpful to parents who are evaluating school options. Three things that the best private schools do are:
  1. Address social/emotional development to build resilient children
  2. Prepare children for jobs that don't yet exist
  3. Offer programs in addition to academics that help create well-rounded children
Teachers at High Meadows guide children in developing their social/emotional skills as well as academic knowledge. 
Address Social/Emotional Development
In addition to teaching core academic subjects, the best private schools help students at all grade levels develop their social/emotional skills. Teachers guide children in learning how to understand other people's feelings, control their own feelings and behaviors, and get along with others. These skills, along with academic learning, provide the foundation students need for long-term academic success and personal growth.  Beginning in  Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten  and continuing through  eighth grade , High Meadows teaches social/emotional skills along with core academic subjects.

Psychologist and author  Dr. Madeline Levine contends that society's current view of success has become too narrowly focused on academic success and over-achievement to the detriment of the whole child. In her book "Teach Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More Than Grades, Trophies, or "Fat Envelopes", she issues a call to action: "We must embrace a healthier and radically different way of thinking about success." She identifies coping skills children must have which include resilience, resourcefulness, and creativity.

Prepare Children for Jobs That Don't Yet Exist
The best private schools also focus on preparing students for the jobs of the future, even when those jobs don't yet exist. Karen Cator, CEO of Digital Promise and a former director of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology, notes that schools must prepare students with the skills for the evolving workplace which is being shaped by automation and artificial intelligence.

"The world is changing," she said in a  recent interview with EdSurge. "The actual jobs that will be available are ones that you do need a different kind of education for, and that's what we need to pay attention to."

She says that schools must help students develop critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, innovation, and financial literacy skills. The best schools focus on these areas in addition to subjects like reading, writing, mathematics, and science. High Meadows teachers encourage students to ask the next question, explore what matters to them, and become respectful self-advocates. Through this dialogue and inquiry, students become reflective and motivated individuals prepared for long-term academic success and leadership as global citizens.

Offer Programs That Help Create Well-Rounded Children
High Meadows offers Girls Who Code as one of its afterschool programs to help girls explore a new interest or deepen an existing one.
The best private schools also offer  afterschool programs that help create well-rounded children who are focused on more than just academic success.  Afterschool programs typically provide students the opportunity to explore a new interest or deepen an existing one in sports, performing and visual arts, technology, debate, community service projects, and more.  Research shows  that effective afterschool programs can boost children's academic performance, encourage interests in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM), and promote physical health, among other benefits. 

Look to a School's Mission Statement
These three characteristics of the highest-rated private schools are just a few factors to consider when selecting the right place for your child. Other factors to consider include a school's environmental emphasis, academic focus, religious curriculum (or lack thereof), diversity and inclusion programs, and global view. Laura NicholsonDirector of Admission, suggests parents look to a  school's mission statement to help understand what matters most to the school and evaluate how that fits with their family's priorities and beliefs.
Apply Now for the 2019-2020 School Year

High Meadows is accepting applications for the 2019-2020 school year. Below are important dates for the Admission Process. For more information, visit  or contact Director of Admission Laura Nicholson at  or 678-507-1170.
  • JANUARY AND FEBRUARY 2019: Applicant visit & assessment dates scheduled for this time period
  • FEBRUARY 15, 2019: Preferred Application Deadline
  • FEBRUARY 22, 2019: Financial Aid Application Deadline
  • MARCH 1, 2019: 2018 Tax Information Deadline for Financial Aid Applicants
  • MARCH 31, 2019: Common Atlanta Area Association of Independent Schools (AAAIS) Admission Notification Date
  • APRIL 11, 2019: AAAIS Response Deadline
Sixth - Eighth Graders Prepare and Host Secret Shop for Star House Students at Two Elementary Schools 

With over 800 gifts to choose from, students in the Star House program at
Middle Years students hosted a Secret Shop for Star House students at two elementary schools.
Esther Jackson and Mimosa Elementary schools in Roswell 
got a jump on their holiday shopping in mid-December thanks to High Meadows Middle Years students. The Secret Shop was filled with free gifts for the elementary students to choose from, plus gift wrapping, milk and cookies. Star House provides after-school tutoring and mentoring for at-risk children in North Fulton County.

Hosting a Secret Shop with Star House began six years ago as part of a service activity for sixth - eighth graders. Each year, High Meadows gives $20 to each eighth grade student to use to purchase gifts. They can also make gifts or go in with each other to buy gifts. Some students ask for donations from local vendors or try to negotiate a discounted price for items.

Middle Years teacher Anne Lovatt helps coordinate and organize the Shop and says the eighth graders look forward to the event all year. "They like being able to personally select the gifts and then help the elementary students pick them out," she said. "I t's a great learning experience for the sixth and seventh graders as well, since they help the older students organize the event and bake the cookies. It also prepares them to be able to run the event when they are in eighth grade."
Eighth graders like being able to personally select the gifts and help the elementary students pick them out for their families.

The partnership between High Meadows and Star House began when a parent started rounding up donations for a Secret Santa shop. From there, it has evolved to include High Meadows eighth graders tutoring and mentoring Star House students once a month.
Soccer Balls, Eggs in Cakes, and Birdseed: Sixth and Seventh Graders Explore Many Topics for Science Fair

Riley Jackson explored the effect air pressure has on a soccer ball.
In mid-December, High Meadows sixth and seventh graders participated in a Science Fair. Each student came up a question they that could  investigate through an experiment. They determined what variable they were trying to test and worked to design a 
Johanna Epstein, right, explains her science project to another student.
procedure that both controlled all other variables and resulted in measurable data.     

Students, teachers, and independent judges evaluated the projects which ranged from
exploring the effectiveness of fire retardants to whether birds care about the  color of bird seed to how sound travels from guitar strings to an amplifier. 

Seventh graders Johanna Epstein and Riley Jackson had the top-scoring projects. For her "EGGcellent Egg Replacers" project, Epstein tested different vegan egg substitutes to see if they affected the density of cakes. Jackson researched the effect that air pressure has on a soccer ball. 

The two students will represent High Meadows at the Fulton County Science Fair in February.
Explore High Meadows
Come Experience the Magic of High Meadows

High Meadows classrooms are alive with inquiry, exploration, and meaningful learning - come visit us! S ign up for an Open House or Grade Level Preview to observe the enthusiasm with which our students pursue their learning, tour our dynamic classrooms, and learn more about what makes High Meadows and exceptional place to learn and grow. Your visit will include:
  • Class observation
  • Information about daily schedule, curriculum, and program
  • Connection with teachers, principals, and HMS parents
  • Optional full-campus tour
Below are opportunities to explore what makes High Meadows special. RSVP through the Ravenna system or contact Director of Admission Laura Nicholson.

Kindergarten/1st Grade Open House - Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Join us for this opportunity to observe our Kindergarten/1st grade classes, learn about their daily schedule and curriculum, and connect with teachers, principals, and HMS parents. 

Family Farm to Forest Tours - Saturday, Jan. 26, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
This child/family-centered introduction to our beautiful outdoor campus showcases special locatioons including our gardens, tire swing, and animals. All family members are welcome. Feel free to bring a picnic style snack to enjoy on the meadow folloiwng the tour.

4th-8th Grade Open House - Thursday, Feb. 7, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Observe our 4th-8th grade classes in action, meet students and parent ambassadors, ask questions of our principals, and meet our teachers.

Preschool & Pre-Kindergarten Preview - Thursday, Feb. 14, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Come spend time in our Pre-K classrooms (ages 3, 4, and young 5). Observe classes in action, meet parent ambassadors, ask questions of our principals, and meet our teachers. This event is geared towards a parent audience.
Upcoming Events
Life at High Meadows is Great, But What Comes Next?Evening With Alumni: January 24 at 7:00 PM

At our Evening With Alumni, hear distinguished alumni share how the High Meadows experience impacted their education and life choices.  We encourage current and prospective parents to attend! Parents of our youngest students can get the big picture about what a High Meadows education will mean, and eigthth grade parents will gain valuable insight into the transition to life after High Meadows. Prospective parents will learn about our school and student outcomes. Join us!
Free Film Screening: Celling Your Soul - January 31 

Parents and Educators - Join us Thursday, Jan. 31 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. for a screening of the film Celling Your Soul. 
RSVP to see this p owerful and informative examination of how our young people actual ly feel about connecting in the digital world and their love/hate relatio nship with technology. It provides empowering strategies for more fulfilling, balanced, and authentic human interaction within the digital landscape. The film reveals the effects of "digital socialization" by taking viewers on a personal journey with a group of high school and college students who, through a digital cleanse, discover the power of authentic human connectivity and that there is "No App" or piece of technology that can replace the benefits of human connection. 

The High Meadows community celebrates and perpetuates each individual's quest for knowledge and skill, sense of wonder, and connection to the natural environment. We empower each to be a compassionate, responsible, and active global citizen.

(770) 993-2940 |
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