It’s not often you see clusters of smiling children and their parents eagerly doing math problems on a Friday night. At the Salk-Chapman Community Math Night last week, all the “work” involved fun group activities, as kids and families huddled together to build 3D shapes and then rushed to other stations to clap, jump, and draw.
Last Friday’s Community Math Night was the capstone event in a larger Salk-Chapman Community Math Partnership Program.
For the last year, as part of a math methods course, Chapman University students in the Integrated Five-Year Bachelor’s plus MA in Curriculum and Instruction (MACI) program had to opportunity to spend several days at Dr. Salk E. Elementary School in Anaheim’s Magnolia School District. Throughout the semester, they worked on-site with Salk teachers to analyze curriculum, complete lesson plans, and co-teach classroom lessons.
Dr. Cathery Yeh, Assistant Professor in the Attallah College of Educational Studies, developed and runs the project at Chapman: “This partnership project uses an approach to mathematics learning that draws on students’ linguistic, familial, and cultural resources to foster a deeper and more personal understanding of key math concepts.”
Thus, it’s a natural fit to bring in the students’ families for an end-of-semester math night.
Salk Principal Kathleen Brown explained this approach to mathematics instruction is particularly effective for the school’s English language (EL) learners and for kids who think they aren’t strong in math. Because it’s all hands on and visual, the students are able to work creatively and collaboratively to solve concrete problems.
“The lessons don’t get lost in translation. When we’re doing it like this, they don’t realize it’s math,” she said.
In a carnival-type atmosphere, Chapman MACI students ran 10 stations at the Community Math Night, guiding visitors through activities with puzzles, building projects, and more.
In between families visiting her table, MACI student Zoe Bonfield ’19 explained the fieldwork component of this partnership makes the MACI program unique: “We get to talk to students and hear their thinking, not just abstract versions of what kids might think about these problems. Here, the kids explain it themselves. It’s a cool insight into how we might better teach based on what the kids are processing.”
Abby Galletti (MACI ’19), who also worked the event, agreed: “We talk a lot in class about how to make lesson plans and work with students but actually doing it with teachers and students is much more useful. You don’t normally get to do that until you do your student teaching.”
Each family went home Friday night with a Family Math Packet supplied by Chapman with simple materials and more activities.
About the overall partnership, Principal Brown said, “Having the Chapman teachers here has inspired my own teachers. It’s given them that energy and love of learning again, energized them to try new approaches. I am super excited about this opportunity and love the partnership we have. I hope it continues to grow because I know the Salk students will benefit just as much as the Chapman students.”