Dr. Joy’s State of the Nation: Meet Olga Ferber
Hello Math Nation!
As a member of the Nation, you are part of a network of over 5,000 teachers across the state. As such, there is a lot that you can learn from each other.
Spotlight on Outstanding Algebra Educators
As part of our Nation network, we will be spotlighting outstanding mathematics educators who have been successful at reaching the most struggling learners, particularly by incorporating Algebra Nation. Please meet our next ‘Spotlight’ Educator!
Olga Ferber has been teaching for 23 years at the middle and high school levels in New York and Florida. Her first 13 years were in ESE where she realized that the non-ESE students were also benefiting from her strategies. Ten years ago, she decided to obtain her Math certification and has been sharing these strategies with all her students at Park Vista Community High School in Palm Beach County ever since. In May of 2014, Olga was a finalist for the Math Teacher of the year in Palm Beach County, and in December of 2015, she was selected to represent her school as a William T. Dwyer Awards for Excellence in Education Nominee.
Olga is very passionate about Algebra and is always thinking about new ways of reaching and motivating students through fun activities and technology. She has been an advocate for Algebra Nation since its inception in 2012. She has created Algebra Nation scavenger hunts, Algebra iMovie trailers and has incorporated Algebra Nation into the Park Vista Power Lunches, which were quick reviews a few days before the EOC. The lunches were such a hit that 220 ninth graders voluntarily give up their lunch period to review for their Algebra EOC. (If the hyperlink to the iMovie trailer does not work, try copying and pasting this link into your browser: https://tiny.cc/iMovieFerber).
I asked Olga to share a strategy that she used with her struggling students. Here’s what she said:
What I have found that works with the lower level students is “peer help”. Some students are more willing to ask a peer to explain a math problem than ask their teacher in front of the whole class. Since this practice is difficult to incorporate into EVERY lesson, I feel that it might be helpful if they did this on their own time using the Math Nation Wall. Students are encouraged to go onto the Math Wall and ask other students for help on homework questions.
Recently Olga collaborated with Math Nation to take “peer help” to the next level with the Community Service Hours Program. Here’s how she described it:
In an effort to help my lower level students, I have asked some of my former students to go onto the Math Nation Wall and use their math skills to help others. In turn, they will earn Karma points which will now translate into Community Service hours. It’s a win/win situation for everyone!
Olga even put together this poster for the Guidance office at her school.
Thanks so much to Olga for these great suggestions! Do you have an activity, an approach, or a strategy that has worked well with struggling learners? Do you know someone who has been effective with hard-to-reach students? If so, please send us a description of your strategy or the name and email address of someone you would like to nominate. I will be sharing some of these best practices with Nation members through this column and on the Teacher Wall. If I feature your best practices (either through this Spotlight or on the Teacher Wall), we will send you a Certificate of Appreciation from the University of Florida and a Math Nation t-shirt as a thank-you.
Please send your ideas to me at Schackow@coe.ufl.edu
Until next time …