For many math students, a lack of solid and thorough understanding of foundational skills and concepts can result in a feeling of math inadequacy or inability. During ARK Institute of Learning’s summer small-group class, Middle School Math, instructors Nick Mobus and Cheryl Ann Strange aimed to help students solidify their grasp on some of the most important foundational skills and prepare them for future work in algebra.


The instructors reviewed the importance of understanding the order of operations (PEMDAS) and helped students understand the power they could wield with well-placed parentheses. Students explored the many roles fractions play in understanding and solving real world problems, as well as the deep connection they share with decimals.


Finally, for a full two days at the culmination of a week together, the group explored the concepts of equality that undergird algebra using a concrete, hands-on tool.

Throughout the class, but especially during the last two days, the instructors witnessed multiple instances of that most gratifying of teaching experiences: when a student lights up with an “Ah-ha!” moment of understanding.


Students ended the week with tools and strategies that will serve them well in the coming school year as they continue to learn and grow in mathematics.