Sept 3, 2014 – Math Club

Yesterday I proposed a “Math Club” at ALC Mosaic. Last year, we had a bunch of kids working on Algebra with me and I thought there would be interest.

…but only Charlotte came!

So what did we do? We decided to hold coherence for math at ALC Mosaic anyway. And it turned out pretty incredible.

First @Charlotte and I went through my old John Van de Walle book from college and practiced some activities from chapter 12, “Whole-Number Place-Value Development.” In college, I had a very progressive math instructor that used this text with our class – and started my love for math and math education. As many of you might know, at the last school I taught in, my area of focus was math and how to bring math to children in a way that is more developmentally appropriate. Most kids actually can think mathematically but have their logic and problem solving skills stripped away from them as they go to school and learn to do math “how my teacher showed me.”

In my experience, kids love engaging with numeracy. They love money. They are little entrepreneurs. They compare each other’s ages. They count objects. They play games that involve numeracy all the time. They want to tell time. Why do we feel the need to sit them down and “do” math in a way that teaches them that you put numbers in a magical arrangement, “carry” the one and like magic, an answer appears?

In my opinion, children needs lots of time to play with place value. They should never be taught algorithms until they have had time to invent their own ways of solving problems.

Ideally, kids could work together solving a problem that’s fun and challenging, and then share with one another how they solved their problem and compare strategies. When I’ve done this with kids, I’ve been blown away by how their invented strategies make so much logical sense and mirror the logic of traditional algorithms. It’s after kids have invented their own strategies and understand them that they can be shown other algorithms, and when they see them, it makes sense!

Back to our Math Club – Charlotte and I decided to investigate together some of the activities in Van de Walle’s book to educate ourselves on how we can introduce numeracy activities to the kids. We did a couple of number games that led us to some fun ideas of how we can naturally include math at school without a formal math club! Dean joined us at this time as well and here is a Math Jam brainstorm list we made:

  • In our small groups, ask the kids to figure out how many eyes are in the room (for younger kids, counting by 2′s)
  • We then thought of other silly challenges we could pose to our small groups – like how many teeth there were in the room! Charlotte and I have 57 teeth together, by the way.
  • Challenge our kids to measure items in their own hands and feet. Charlotte, Dean, and I then measured our hallway in our feet and strides. We found out some cool things during this activity – for example, Charlotte has smaller feet than I do (duh!), but she took fewer strides than I did. We realized that she has a super long stride, (probably why she kicked my butt hiking Grandfather Mountain this weekend, she walks really fast!) This then led us to a mini lesson on the history of measurement!
  • @Dean said he’d love to start a “Discovery Book” where kids could record cool discoveries like these and challenge others to new challenges and discovery making!

So, Math Club wasn’t a flop after all!

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