A new, elective class at Boonville High School gives students an opportunity for one-on-one help with math.

Every day in the first semester at Boonville High School, 14 students went to Melissa Hundley’s classroom for a second helping of math.

They were there for math lab, a new, elective class for students struggling with the subject. Most of the students were underclassmen taking the lab alongside an algebra class. While most were there because their math teacher recommended that they take it, Hundley said some were there because they thought they needed extra help.

In some ways, the lab is like a study hall, giving students time to work on assignments. Some students can fall into a trap of not getting their assignments done because they don’t adequately understand the subject matter, so Hundley is there to answer questions.

Hundley also gives students extra practice with the online Khan Academy, which has free tutorials and practice problems. Hundley also teaches concepts the students will go over in math class, giving students more time to understand the content before it appears on a test. Students also go over their tests from math lab and take practice tests, Hundley said.

Pirate Time

Hundley started the math lab this year as a way to give extra attention to struggling students.

Hundley got the idea when she was working at Hickman High School in Columbia. There was a study hall period, and some of the math teachers made themselves available to students who wanted extra help during their period. She said that each student who came at least once a week for help passed their math class.

Students at Boonville High School had “Pirate Time,” through last school year, which was basically a study hall period at the end of each day. Hundley offered math help to students who wanted it the last year the school had the study time. She said an average of about 10 students came each day for help.

As of this school year, Pirate time is gone at Boonville High School. Teachers felt a lot of students weren’t using the time wisely, so the school went back to a seven-period schedule with no study hall, Hundley said.

Hundley believed that some students still needed time for extra math help, so she asked for a new elective class where she could give one-on-one attention to students who were struggling in math but motivated to improve.

Early success

Hundley has 21 students for the second semester of math lab. She said most of the last semester’s students are back, along with several additions.

Early returns on the first group of students were encouraging. All 14 had a passing grade in their first semester of math this school year. Ten of the 14 students had a better grade first semester than they did last year, Hundley said.

Getting into the lab can be challenging because of students’ tight class schedules. Hundley wants to keep the classes small so she can give each student attention. For the second semester, there are two sections of the class, one with ten students and the other with 11, Hundley said.

Still, Hundley wants more people to know they have the option to take math lab and has branched out to other schools. Last year, she went to talk to eighth-graders in Blackwater about the class, and some of those students signed up. This year, she hopes to talk to eighth graders at Saints Peter and Paul about the class, too.