EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 1, 2013

American flag livens up math class at Methuen school

By Douglas Moser

---- — METHUEN — The American flag means a lot of things to different people: liberty, patriotism and sacrifice to name a few.

Sixth graders at Marsh Grammar School learned such meanings, along with a little history, about the flag in an unusual place – math class.

Kristin Coletti, a sixth grade math and science teacher at Marsh Grammar School, used a lesson on scale last month to incorporate other lessons in history and English.

“It was learning about history in math class. I didn’t expect that,” said sixth-grader Andrew Proietti.

Nearly two dozen students gathered at Marsh last Friday – two days into their delayed summer vacation – to show their flags, many of which hung on the walls of their classroom, and to talk about their project.

Coletti, who originally got the idea when she worked in Andover, said she crafted the lesson with an eye toward Flag Day on June 14. In separate groups, the students decided what proportion they wanted to make their flags, based on a classroom template, and figured out the new spacing and dimensions.

On a practical level, they figured out they needed the stripes and blue field to be a little bigger, so they could glue the overlap. They learned the stripes start red at the top and alternate until they finish with red at the bottom, and how the 50 stars are arranged on the blue field in the corner.

But they also learned some of the history of the flag, doing some historical research and writing a five-paragraph essay.

“We learned why we have Flag Day. It’s the day John Adams presented the Continental Congress with the design of the flag,” said Alexis Kelly. That day, June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress approved a resolution adopting a flag described as thirteen stripes, alternate red and white and a union of thirteen stars, white in a blue field.

The essay also included proper flag handling and etiquette. “I took away a little more respect for the flag and how to take care of it because of its importance in our history,” said Ramon Lopez.

Adding essays to the classwork in a broader range of subjects, including math, has been a district goal to strengthen reading and writing skills.

Several of the flags were finished by June 14 and were hung for a Flag Day assembly that included the band playing America the Beautiful and the Star Spangled Banner.

Follow Douglas Moser on Twitter @EagleEyeMoser. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to eagletribune.com.