Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Winding Down, Filling Away?

Next Quarter

This shouldn't surprise me anymore but despite it feeling like I just started the first quarter is almost done and I'm about to start registration for the winter. I've decided based on the number of other volunteers that I've found to raise the club size to 18 kids. So hopefully everyone who wants to participate has a chance. If the other dad who was my main assistant can commit for the next quarter I will go all the way to 20. I allow the existing students to preregister so they can continue if they'd like to all year long since Math Club really functions best as a year long activity. So far 11 out of 16 kids have definitely indicated they will keep going.  I have a few kids among those that have not contacted me yet that I really hope rejoin.  Its hard not to take some of these decisions personally when I know objectively many factors beyond me come into play including busy parents who will still register when it opens up.  On the bright side, I'm confident we'll easily fill up and hopefully based on the wait list from last session I'll have a bit better gender parity.  Just to prime the pump I sent the wait list folks a reminder mail which amusingly resulted in an instant email back from one parent asking if they could sign up right now.

Are they Retaining Knowledge?

Every once in a while something happens that makes me take pause and worry how much the kids are remembering. Last week it was the RATS = 4 * STAR problem. Some of the kids had seen the problem at least 2 times previously over a year and yet looked oblivious when I mentioned that fact.  Then last night working on a fun problem with my son I had another similar episode.  During the summer we had visited the Field Museum:  Besides the Voronoi diagrams there was also a mirror maze that had various problems in it posted on the walls. One of the problems was interesting enough that we talked about it for 10-15 minutes.

Given a 4x4 grid: how many squares can you find?  Can you generalize this result?

Sure enough this showed up in last night's work. I asked him does this look familiar: blank stares. I hinted: remember this summer in Chicago: more blank stares. Sigh, at least he reworked the problem quickly so I assume the learning has occurred subconsciously in this case.  This is why I've stopped worrying about repeating any material from last year. The kids really don't seem to retain particular problems the way I assume they would.

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