No summer recess for some Gwinnett County students and teachers

Tiana Thomas, a first-grade teacher at Gwinnett County's Jenkins Elementary School, works with a student as part of the school district's Math Institute. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM

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Tiana Thomas, a first-grade teacher at Gwinnett County's Jenkins Elementary School, works with a student as part of the school district's Math Institute. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM

About 1,500 Gwinnett County public school students and 700 teachers have been back at school during the last two weeks, learning from each other math principles they will make them better for the next school year.

The students and teachers are participants in the school district’s Math Institute, an annual initiative the school district says reinforces what students learned during the school year. For teachers, they learn what works well with students and practice what they’ll teach the next school year.

“It gives teachers the opportunity to learn and they can immediately apply it to students,” said Bonnie Brush, Gwinnett’s math director.

Brush believes it’s the only such program of its kind in metro Atlanta.

The students are invited by various schools to participate. They meet for half-day sessions in classrooms. Each class about four or five teachers. One teacher, called a master trainer, leads the classwork. The teachers stay after class ends to discuss class techniques they believe are working.

“It’s a nice model to hone your craft,” said math instructional coach Danielle Shea.

Most of the students are on the elementary school level. This year’s goal is for students to use grade-level appropriate instances to learn, a principle called “algebriac reasoning.”

Marcus Campbell, a rising fifth-grader at Jenkins Elementary School in Lawrenceville, said he was enjoying being back at school, although it meant waking up several hours earlier during his summer vacation.

“You forgot things in the summer, so you’re learning for the next grade,” he said.

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Jenkins Elementary School student Marcus Campbell, 10, gets back to work. He’s one of about 1,500 Gwinnett County students participating in the school district’s Math Institute. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM

Jenkins Elementary School student Marcus Campbell, 10, gets back to work. He’s one of about 1,500 Gwinnett County students participating in the school district’s Math Institute. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM

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Jenkins Elementary School student Marcus Campbell, 10, gets back to work. He’s one of about 1,500 Gwinnett County students participating in the school district’s Math Institute. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM

In another classroom, a group of kindergarten students were learning how to add by collecting small pieces of plastic called stackers. Some students were attempting to solve math problems on their computers. One boy was working on a puzzle of three dogs. Each right answer removed a piece.

“I’m making a dog,” he excitedly told first-grade teacher Tiana Thomas.

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These kindergarten students learn math principles as part of Gwinnett County's Math Institute. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM

These kindergarten students learn math principles as part of Gwinnett County's Math Institute. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM

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These kindergarten students learn math principles as part of Gwinnett County's Math Institute. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM

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