Wednesday, December 10, 2014

In the beginning ....

Background


The elementary school my son goes to has a after school math club that is mostly for the fourth and fifth graders. The focus is on organizing the kids to go to the various math competitions that occur over the year. After last year the previous volunteer parent "graduated" to middle school and the club almost disappeared.  Some time went by and I responded to the call for a new volunteer at the end  of October and have been running it for about five weeks now.

Why Me?

This is my first time volunteering at school. I've always felt that there wasn't an opportunity that was worth the lost time at work. However, I've thought about getting involved with the math club in the past. Math is a passion of mine and I had some key mentoring experiences at the end of elementary school that I would love to provide for others. More generally I've found that I really enjoy watching kids learn. After a few weeks I can say that this seems to be true whether not they're my own  children.  Speaking of which although my own son isn't old enough yet for the club, I also want for it to be available for him in future years.  I'm hoping to also learn along the way myself and improve my own  teaching/facilitating skills.

The kids

My initial target was 10-15 kids. I ended up with 15 that are split almost evenly between boys and girls and skew mostly towards fifth graders. They all are doing various stages of pre-algebra using the Glencoe Mathematics Middle School book 1 or 2.


Goals

I'm running the club as a hybrid math circle / math competition club. That means in practice, I've been buying and reading a set of math circle diaries and books. I'm trying to structure the hour I have as partly preparation for the next contest and partly a mathematical exercise or game for the day. This is not always easy and I'm still evaluating week to week what seems to work and what draws out the most from the kids.




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