Quaker Hill Grant Goes to Mr. Bezaire

by Jeff Greenfield

This year's Quaker Hill recipient is seventh grade math teacher Joel Bezaire. The Quaker Hill grant allows one or two USN teachers to pursue studies or special projects in the summer.
Joel's project will be designing innovative math curricula intended to enrich math learning for the most capable learners in the courses which immediately precede seventh grade, the first year where an advanced section of each math course is offered.  Research and our own experience as a school have taught us that only in very rare cases does it serve a talented math student best to skip a grade and accelerate vertically.  Rather, in the middle school years, what's most important is to provide challenging and interesting applications that require more abstract reasoning and creative problem-solving yet stay on topic. 

What's more, Joel's goal is to make these extensions hands-on and project-based, closely tied to each unit of study throughout the year.  It's a very tall order indeed: one doesn't have to look far to find piles of workbooks filled with challenging math exercises, many even extensions of the routine problems assigned to all.  However, it's challenge work of a different order--and, Joel believes, more interesting and meaningful--to create extensions that apply one's understanding of math to real-world situations in original and creative ways.

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