Even before the Chapman University campus pivoted to online instruction, Cathery Yeh was bringing math concepts out of the classroom for her teaching credential students and the children they teach.
As founder of Chapman’s Community Math Partnership Program, the Attallah College Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education has partnered with local educators for years to incorporate experiential learning into her teacher preparation courses.
It was only natural then that when the US K-12 educational system went online 6 weeks ago, so did Dr. Yeh and her Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) students. The team quickly shifted their efforts and created the Chapman U Math at Play Video Series, a free video series that helps math concepts come alive with hands-on activities.
Posted to an open YouTube channel, the series addresses pre-kindergarten through 8th grade mathematics standards and is accessible to educators and families alike.
The Chapman U Math at Play video series includes a weekly set of math exercises, with a new set posted each Friday. The first set of videos include exercises on constructing 2D and 3D shapes, with simple instructions and recommendations in English and Spanish for tying the activities to PK-8 curriculum.
Each video guides viewers through mathematical activities that center on play and problem solving using resources available at home.
Dr. Yeh and her Chapman students script and record the videos, all working remotely while observing the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. Each student signed up to focus on and author specific activities, but they work together to edit and review everything before it’s posted to YouTube. Family members, children, and siblings lend a hand too, helping to demo the activities as “master builders”.
Creating the videos has allowed the MAT students to put their student teaching skills into practice.
“It was a steep learning curve for us to create our own videos and add captions,” said Dr. Yeh, “but it’s been a valuable exercise in utilizing available technologies in lesson planning for our teacher credential candidates.”
Anna Williams ’20 was excited when Dr. Yeh first called her about this idea, but she admits creating the content was harder than the team initially thought because of the COVID-19 situation.
“This project has taught me that any great ideas worth trying take tons of hard work, perseverance, collaboration, and patience,” said Williams. “We have all learned to be flexible and give each other grace when creating new content as we go through unchartered waters together because we are all stuck at home doing the best we can.”
Every Friday, the Math at Play Series will release a new set of videos. The content is appropriate for both educators and families learning from home.
To ensure access to as many families as possible, the videos and handouts are available in both English and Spanish.
Leonor Pereda ’20, another Chapman MAT student, who is pursuing a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, Single Subject Authorization in Mathematics, and Bilingual Authorization in Spanish, is one of the bilingual leads on the video project.
“I decided to become an educator in order to address mathematics inequities prevalent in our academic institutions, especially as it pertains to marginalized students of color and emergent bilinguals,” said Pereda.
The Chapman U Math at Play series aligns perfectly with Leonor’s goals as an educator and has let her put her skills into practice. Pereda and co-lead Sonia Rosiles (MAT ’20) coordinate the translation of all math activity write-ups and Spanish recordings. They also record the Spanish activities and review Spanish captions for YouTube.
Her favorite part of the project has been recording and executing the math activities with her niece and nephew.
“We have a lot of fun during the project,” Leonor said. “After all, it is called Math Play!”
All the activities focus on play and exploring math concepts in the natural world. The goal is to help children develop mathematical reasoning and sense making through play and exploration.
In discussing the Let’s Build it Activity, “Geometry is more than identifying shapes and learning vocabulary,” said Dr. Yeh. “It requires spatial sense—an intuition about shapes and relationships between them—acquired as students explore their 2D and 3D world.”
As part of the activities, students are asked to consider the structure strength and shape characteristics. There is also time for them to design, build, and redesign, while reflecting on strategies that were both successful and unsuccessful.
“My favorite part of this project so far is doing something new and exciting,” said Williams. “Talking with some of my students, they can’t wait to try out the activities we do. I love seeing all the collaboration and showing the world that everyone can be a ‘math person.’”
All Master Builders are encouraged to share updates and photos of their Chapman U Math at Play projects on social media using the hashtags #MathatPlay #MathatHome #MathEnCasa