Rigorous and relevant instruction: that’s the goal for Meridyth Hansen, K-12 Director of Mathematics and Instructional Technology in Hauppauge School District. Serving more than 1,200 students across three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school in Hauppauge, NY, Hansen doesn’t just see her work as a profession but as a privilege and passion.
“I’m so fortunate to be able to help shape the foundation we provide here to open pathways for students to achieve access, opportunities for growth, and success in mathematics,” says Hansen. But she recognizes that this work doesn’t come without opportunities and obstacles.
An evolving educational landscape
“Our students face the challenges of a changing world that we need to prepare them for,” says Hansen, noting the lasting impact of COVID-19, technology, and competitive college entrance processes as factors that underscore the necessity of giving students a solid foundation to succeed.
Despite the changing future, Hansen knows foundational math skills are non-negotiable. “Basic
math fact fluency is of the utmost importance for young mathematics learners because it promotes efficiency, builds a strong foundation, contributes to success in higher-level mathematics, and has practical applications in everyday life,” she says. “With the learning gaps still being addressed as a result of COVID, computational fluency is more important than it's ever been. Students with a solid foundation of fact fluency will have a more developed number sense that will lead to improved performance and understanding of all math concepts.”
ExploreLearning Reflex, an adaptive math fact fluency solution for grades 2-6, through professional networks on social media. Initially curious if the tools would bring student engagement and success, Hansen quickly saw positive results across Hauppauge School District. The district then implemented Frax, a game-based tool that teaches foundational fractions for grades 3-5. The impact amazed Hansen.
“Our first year with Reflex and Frax was a huge success.
The teachers that embraced the new programs quickly observed success and growth with all their students. Students enjoyed the game-based learning and differentiated approach. In year two, we had evidence of success and the momentum behind us from year one to roll out a districtwide plan to have all of our elementary learners interacting with these platforms beginning in 1st grade,” says Hansen.
“Reflex and Frax are transformative tools for our educators to leverage to meet the needs of students of all levels.” -Meridyth Hansen
Reflex and Frax “staples” for Hauppauge School District elementary math programs. Teachers benefit from easy-to-implement tools that bring real results while students experience math confidence, sometimes for the first time in their academic lives.
A 3rd-grader at Bretton Woods Elementary School celebrated 100% multiplication and division mastery with her teacher and principal. Check out that awesome bulletin board!
“Students that require academic intervention support, English language learners, students with special needs, and our gifted and talented learners have all demonstrated success in mathematics and growth in fluency with both operations and fractions as a direct result of Reflex and Frax. Students have learned that with hard work, they can succeed, and that is the most important lesson that has come out of this initiative.”
Hansen notes that Reflex and Frax help Hauppauge students develop growth mindsets while celebrating effort and achievement. “Students are proud to achieve 100% fluency and are excited to display their success in mathematics for their friends, teachers, and families to see,” says Hansen. Achievement certificates line school hallways, and success is often celebrated in classrooms and with school-wide recognition.
Teachers see results
“Once teachers and students started seeing these programs' improvement and impact, the usage increased exponentially,” Hansen says. “Students were asking to work on their daily
Green Lights, and teachers were encouraged by the results they were seeing!”
Teachers in Hauppauge can choose how to integrate Reflex and Frax into their instruction best. “Teachers assign Reflex as part of morning work, homework, independent practice, or even as a station during small group instruction. These
programs provide immediate feedback to students, allowing them to see where they need to improve and giving them the opportunity to correct their mistakes in real-time.”
Hansen continues, “While there are multiple fluency programs available to young learners,
Reflex and Frax have far exceeded all of our other platforms in terms of engaging and interactive activities, immediate feedback, and tools for tracking progress,” says Hansen.
First graders in the district enjoy using Reflex during the school day.
Hansen has also observed
improved performance on curricular assessments after introducing Reflex and Frax. “We are excited to continue this important work and see how the new Frax missions further prepare our students for success as they grow.”
Pines Elementary School in Hauppauge celebrates Reflex accomplishments.
In addition to supporting students and teachers, Hansen notes that Reflex and Frax align with the greater mission of Hauppauge School District.
“In Hauppauge, our vision for increased access to advanced coursework is predicated on strong elementary mathematics education and a solid foundation in mathematical fluency.
Reflex and Frax align with our vision and provide an engaging way for students to learn, grow, and succeed in mathematics,” says Hansen. “While the two programs have different approaches and features, they share a common goal of helping students build confidence and proficiency in the foundations of mathematics.”
Bretton Woods Elementary in Hauppauge celebrates math.
“As an educator in the mathematics field, I have never seen a program have a greater impact on our young learners than Reflex and Frax.”
“While being fluent with math facts doesn't make complex problems easy, it does reduce the number of cognitive resources needed to tackle computation, allowing those resources to be allocated to other components of the process.” Thanks to Hansen’s introduction of
Reflex and Frax, Hauppauge School District students are receiving foundational skill practice that makes a measurable difference.
Meridyth Hansen has worked in education for 16 years. Starting her career with the NYC Department of Education, Hansen taught secondary math and coached varsity soccer, later becoming a turnaround teacher and master teacher where she provided professional development to colleagues. In Long Island, Hansen served as the East Rockaway Chairperson for STEM and the Cold Spring Harbor Schools STEM Director before becoming the K-12 Director of Mathematics and Instructional Technology for Hauppauge School District.
Hansen (left) and Hauppauge School District math teachers.