Learning centers enliven this 4th grade math class

  • Teacher Devin Belding leads his fourth-grade math class at Athol Community Elementary School. Contributed photo

  • Devin Belden, top, leads his fourth-grade math students in a learning center set up on the classroom floor at Athol Community Elementary School. The basketball represents a decimal point. Contributed photo

  • ACES teacher Devin Belden, center, poses questions to students in his fourth-grade math class at ACES. Contributed photo

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 5/10/2022 4:54:43 PM
Modified: 5/10/2022 4:54:42 PM

ATHOL — Devin Belden creates a sense of rigor and belongingness in his fourth grade math class at Athol Communtiy Elementary School by setting up multiple learning centers throughout his classroom. So many math classes just practice math facts over and over, but Belden makes his class fun and engaging for his students. The children need to have a real break from remote learning. The learning centers help the students to take “a brain break” and make learning fun and meaningful.

Before the children moved to their centers, Belden reviewed the material that the class had learned the day before. He asked questions and each child eagerly raised their hands with their answers or an explanation of the mathematical principal. Each learning math center allows the students to explore a topic that was covered in a previous class by participating in hands on activities.

He set up five learning centers. The children were broken up into groups of five and every 15 minutes the children moved to a different center in a quiet and orderly manner with their group so by the end of the class, they had worked at each math center. During this time, Belden visited each math center and spoke with each child about what they were doing.

The most popular center was set up on the floor with a number line across the front of the class, with a basketball! The children were learning about number places and where the decimal point belonged in their answers. Yes, you guessed it; the basketball was their decimal point! Belden sat on the floor with the students and gave them different problems to work on.

One math center was a card game which had the children working with partners and putting numbers in order, taking turns and discussing their reasoning for their answers. Two other groups worked on computer games called Splash. The games were focused on the current math lesson and according to the student’s mathematical abilities. The fifth center was for students who needed extra help and was led by Mrs. Leah Jones from the Special Education Department.

I walked around the class and asked some of the students what they liked about their math class and teacher. Cayden Fields said the he liked learning about decimals, and playing Math Yahtzee. Jenna Desrosiers liked the learning centers and decimal activities. Mckenzie McCauley Morales and Sophia Fredette said that Mr. Belden was their favorite teacher and they loved the Splash activities. Hayden Booth also liked the Splash games that he played on his computer.

Belden also teaches the same fourth graders science. He explained that the science program is hybrid meaning that part of it is technology and the other part of the science program is “hands on.” He teaches E Renewable energy sources, animal adaptation, erosion, deposition and weathering.

Belden has science centers and projects that the students work on. Later on in May, the students will be learning about renewable solar energy and they will be building solar ovens. They also will be learning about wind turbines. Earlier this year, his class built crash cars out of Popsicle sticks. straws, and plastic wheels. The children decorated plastic eggs with googly eyes and put them inside their crash cars and raced them down the speed ramp that Belden had built. It was a real race car derby that reinforced his lessons about friction, speed, energy and working together.

Belden is a terrific teacher and a great asset to Athol Community Elementary School. He is currently finishing his Master’s program in Elementary Education at the American International College. He wrote his thesis paper on erosion, deposition and weathering, which he will be teaching to his students

Joanne Davidson is the newsletter developer for Athol Royalston Regional School District.


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