Wednesday, October 7, 2015

10/6 And we're off to the races

This afternoon was finally the first meeting of the math club for the year! Things started with a rude shock when I checked out my assigned room and found it had no desks or chairs. We'll see if I can get a better site in the future weeks but for now I'm going to ask the kids to bring a clip board or some other hard surface for writing on. On the bright side having everyone sprawled out on the floor worked better than I would have expected. It does make things informal in an interesting way.

My second surprise unfortunately was that an unexpected student that was not on my roster showed up that I had to refer to the after school program coordinators to sort out. The enrollment process was not under my control and this was one of the problems I was really worried about beforehand. This later lead to what my wife called " One of the saddest facebook posts ever."  Unfortunately I'm already at capacity and can't make last minute adjustments but it is really hard seeing someone write that you've shattered their child's dreams. I'll probably have some further conversations with the coordinator about the problems in the signup process.

I decided to start the meeting with a quick introduction from me with why I'm leading the class and what we are going to do over the quarter in some general terms. I then had all the kids introduce themselves and say why they were in the club. Almost everyone said essentially they liked math which is good to have said out loud sometimes by a large group of kids.

Next I had everyone get up and form a circle for a game of Buzz.  Rules   I picked the progressive version where you add rules. First we did fives, then added sevens and ended with prime numbers. This was a great success.  Some of the kids asked about doing an elimination round which I'll have to think about for future games but I do like keeping everyone involved.

From there we did the club charter discussion I decided to add on this year. I've put some of the outlines of the areas we covered here:   But essentially I'm going to try to come back to several key points particularly around what to do when we encounter hard problems. For next time, I'm going to stress collaborating with the others in the room.

This was put to quick test because I decided to start with the 2 problems I had used on my recruitment flier (link)  although I had some trepidation about whether they were too hard. As expected they did initially stump the kids but I was able to scaffold enough to move the room through at least 1 or both of them. The key was mostly to emphasize simplifying the problems and looking for patterns. I don't think anyone reached the 3rd problem which I added for my own peace of mind to make sure no one finished early.

Finally I gave them the problem of the month from MOEMS: to do at home over the week and stressed I would be giving candy out once I had received enough finished problems. I'm really hoping this proves motivating.

Going forward I'm planning to send an email out about unfinished problems since that's a bad habit of mine. I'm going to have to think some more on the best policy to take. Perhaps I should have an answer site that everyone can look at. Or perhaps I'm overthinking the issue.

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