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Barb VanderLaan

Upper School Mathematics Teacher
B.A. Mathematics, Hope College
M.Ed. Secondary Education, Xavier University

Teaching Philosophy

Important skills I want to teach my students

I want to teach my algebra students that choosing a variable to represent the unknown, and then writing and solving an equation can answer many real-world questions.

Teaching methods to reach these goals

I require the students to do application problems throughout the year. Sometimes they work independently; other times they work with a partner. After they have completed their work, we talk about the problems. Sometimes I explain a problem but, more often, students explain their thinking and work to the class.

My favorite projects

When we study slopes of lines, I ask students to find the slopes of steps around school and the slopes of steps at home. We find images of very steep steps as well as not-so-steep steps. We also find regulations for commercial and residential steps and talk about why the regulations would be different.

What I like best about teaching at Seven Hills

I like the self-motivation and the desire to do well I find in Seven Hills students. I also appreciate the support of the administration and my colleagues. It truly feels like a community.