If your eyes have ever glazed over upon seeing these words on your child’s homework, you’re not alone. That’s why last week’s elementary math night was designed: to equip parents to work confidently with their students at home, help them make strides in math and better understand the ways manipulatives are used to teach new concepts in the classroom.
“It’s a night for kids to get excited about math in some new, different and fun ways. Math can be a very frustrating and intimidating subject for some kids, so the idea is to have them look at math with fresh eyes,” said Mr. Coghill.
Kindergarten teacher Andrea Lee underscored the importance of the evening: “I think it’s important for parents to know the basics of what their kids are learning. When their kids go home and say “I know partners of 3” and parents are thinking, “what does that mean?” … nights like this gives parents an opportunity to show them what number partners are and how can identify what a number partner is. They can leave knowing what goes on throughout they day so they feel ready to jump in and help.”
“It gives the opportunity to both parents and students to see the types of manipulatives and math games that we use. There is a component to the Allendale website where we have access to our curriculum and handouts for parents. We want them to know what to expect because Math Expressions is new to the district this year,” Lee continued.
Each grade level was represented by teachers with materials from the curriculum on tables in the gym. In addition to teachers at each station, GVSU students manned games in the cafeteria, allowing students to move freely between activities.
Cassidy Wright, an AHS junior, and Chris Hughes, a returning student (both pictured above), were asked to provide students with a game to teach spatial relations and measurement using bugs and containers of different sizes. Despite the lighthearted nature of their approach, the two worked together to base their objectives on Michigan K-6th grade content standards.
Noel Hayden, Math Interventionist at Springview and Evergreen Elementaries said this event once was a math and science night, but with the new curriculum in place, it was decided to make this year strictly math focused. Math Expressions is a curriculum packed with resources to help pinpoint areas of struggle for students, providing multiple ways for teachers to help kids overcome challenges.
“This is really an opportunity for parents to ask questions of the teachers, get a feel for what’s going on in the classroom and learn how they can incorporate math into activities at home. My hope is that the kids who come to my classroom and say, “I don’t like math, oh, math’s not fun” can have a different experience. If they can have fun and learn math at the same time, that they can internalize that it’s not always the case that math has to be about numbers — it’s also about solving real world issues,” Mr. Hayden said.
He continued, “We view this as a great way to show students that math can be fun and we also hope that parents take that sentiment home. Over the summer most families read books, but few do any math. We’d like to encourage parents to incorporate math at home.”
David Wolffis, and Allendale Senior who joined the evening as a helper, has positive connections to math, saying, “I think the reason I did so well in high school is because I had really, really, really good elementary teachers.”
Knowing the foundation to higher learning begins with kids are young, Allendale is working overtime to provide opportunities for growth and positive interactions around problem solving and mathematics. Our thanks to GVSU, our AHS student volunteers, and all the staff, parents and community members who made the evening a success!