Moms Go To Math Class
by Melissa Bailey | Jul 19, 2012 4:19 pm
Posted to: Schools, Newhallville, School Reform
Evelyn Hernaiz and Heroilda Posadas learned how to use a “wrap-up” to practice times tables, so they can help their kids enjoy math when they return to the classroom in the fall.
Hernaiz and Posadas (pictured) and 20 other moms picked up a new tool Wednesday in a summer training program at the Lincoln-Bassett School in Newhallville. They’re taking part in a two-week Title I Parent Summer In-Service Training Institute, a federally funded program that has run in New Haven for 22 years.
The parents—all women—sat in a classroom at 11 a.m. for a lesson from Ken Mathews, the school district’s math supervisor. His goal was to teach them a few fun math tricks, as well as how to help their own kids at home as the district shifts towards a popular approach known as Singapore Math.
Mathews warmed up the crowd with a brainstorming session on the number 18. (It was the 18th of July.)
“I got married at 18,” offered Ida Felder, now a grandmother of a teenager entering high school.
Mathews (pictured) then asked the moms to tell him something about 18, using two mathematical operations.
“Oh God, I barely passed math in college,” groaned one mother.
“That’s OK—that’s because you weren’t taught the right way,” Mathews assured her. He urged the moms to get to work and “take a risk” with their answers.
“I want to hear the sound of pencils scratching on paper,” he said.
Dawn Herring, who has students in the 8th and 11th grades, offered a complex reply: 18 - 9 + 3 X 2 / 2 + 6.
The group erupted in applause for the right answer.
See? Mathews said. “When we get math right, there’s a good feeling.”
This is all fine, said mom Kim McKoy. But, she said, her middle-school children at Ross/Woodward School are coming home with a new way of doing things. It involves drawing pictures to multiply numbers. She hadn’t seen that before.
In response, Matthews took her through a three-part exercise. He pulled out a bunch of strings and yellow pieces of plastic with numbers on them.
Moms clearly enjoyed being back in school, even cracking jokes from the back of the room.
Moms strung up their new toys—called “wrap-ups”—and set to work. The tools let you practice your multiplication tables by connecting numbers on the left to numbers on the right.
For example, this stick features multiples of seven. To reach 11 times 7, you wind the red string from 11 to 77.
Talia Morton wound the string through all the answers. Then Mathews told her to flip over the wrap-up and look at the design on the back to see if she got them right.
Indeed she had!
Morton said she has four kids in New Haven Public Schools. Her youngest are 3, 4 and 9.
“I need to get my son one of these. Where do we get these?” she asked.
Mathews said told the moms to keep them as a gift.
They also learned a 2-D way to figure out the same problems. It involves drawing a “garden,” with boxes, to visualize the answer to a multiplication problem.
Mathews said those two ways—one “concrete,” something you can touch with your hands; the other “pictorial,” which you can visualize—are part of a new type of math rolling out in city schools. That’s Singapore Math. It emphasizes deep knowledge and mastery of fewer topics, rather than cursory knowledge of many subjects. It’s based on a mantra of CPA—concrete, pictorial and abstract, Mathews said. “Abstract” is the way most of us would solve a multiplication problem, without any pictures or objects.
Mathews noted that Singapore Math rolled out in grades K to 2 last year. It will be expanding to grade 3 this coming academic year.
It’s part of a nationwide movement toward a universal curriculum called Common Core of State Standards—click here to look inside a Singapore Math lesson at Fair Haven School.
As the city and state shift to Common Core, Mathews told the parents, their kids won’t be taking the Connecticut Mastery Test anymore. Their last CMT will be in 2014. Then they’ll shift to a new test aligned with new national standards.
Besides meeting with Mathews, parents in the program meet with top officials on a range of subjects, including security, bullying, science, literacy, and school reform. This year, 25 parents are taking the training. Each receives a stipend of $200.
The program drew several returnees, including Dawn Herring (pictured), who has kids at MicroSociety Interdistrict Magnet and Co-op High. She said she has attended the training three or four times, to get the “info and resources that parents need.”
Parents went home with protractors, rulers, wrap-ups, and a free deck of cards from Mohegan Sun. Mathews urged them make sure their kids in grades K to 3 are learning in Singapore-style.
“If you see your children are not using concrete or pictorial models, you might want to call the teacher out on it,” he offered. And “if you find that your children are not getting math and not getting that positive emotion” that emanated through the classroom Wednesday, “there’s something wrong and you need to contact your teacher.”
He encouraged them to keep their kids on their toes with math puzzles outside of school.
For example, if your son wants to watch a TV show, ask: “In how many minutes does it start?”
“Math is all around us,” he said. “We just need to give it a big hug and share it with our babies.”
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Math truly is all around us.
And we need more administrators like Ken Mathews.
if you read article and scroll down through the pictures, you’ll discover that they’re holding a “wrap up” in the first picture.
I most certainly object to such things in schools.
totally agree rcguy. math was never my strong suit. the article says that all the parents in attendance were women, but i counted one male member.
posted by: RichTherrn on July 20, 2012 6:15am
Ken does a great job at making mathematics the fun, important skill that it is! It is the fundamental language of science, and a key for our students’ future.. On Tue, these same parents learned about why the sky is blue, and how 3D glasses work in experiments similar to NHPS science curriculum!
-NHPS Science Supervisor
Ken Mathews is an excellent, hands-on director. He makes math fun. Math was never my strength, but Ken taught me how to bring math to life, and it’s become one of my favorite subjects to teach. Glad to see him running such a worthwhile program.
This is great! How do we sign up? When/where is it offered in the city? Are there evening classes, or are they all during the day? Is information about the program being made available to all parents in the city? I want to do this!
Nice job Ken. Why not get your math coaches to offer this kind of training to their parents throughout the year? It would be a great way to encourage parents to come into the schools. In my old school we would offer literacy training to parents along with coffee and snacks. It was a great way to educate parents and form alliances. ’
This is the way forward. Too few schools (districts) educate parents, yet who are the most important people in a student’s life? Their care givers. Even an absent parent has more influence from their absence than a teacher who sees kids in batches for 45 minutes at a time for half the days of the year. Next step after teaching skills and knowledge is teaching parents the systemic attitudes for successful study. (Ask yourself why so many UMC WASPs, many East Asians, and Jews do so well in school? Cultural values that support education.)
Actually, the most educated group in America is immigrant Africans, speaking of cultural values.
Quit right westville man. The commonness of quadrilingual people in Africa suggests that those values and methods could produce a very good model for multilingualism.
The Chinese commitment to education comes from a Confucian tradition of civil service exams. For centuries, anyone could (in theory) advance by passing strenuous exams. To this day, the future of students is driven in large measure through standardized exams.
One of the great differences between Protestant and Catholic, is the former has a direct relationship with God through the Bible, while the later provides that relationship through a priest. So WASPS need to be able to read in order to avoid damnation. It did not take the Protestant elites long to figure out that comprehensive education was the key to their power.
Bared by anti Semitic laws from the primary form of wealth in medieval Europe, land, and any number of crafts and trades, Jews pursued success in the areas not bared to them. Since this included trade and banking, it fed anti Semitic views. Ironic.
There are many cultures that venerate education, each in their own way. So from the Chinese we can learn how to be very focused and pass exams. They have little to teach us on creativity or problem solving (but they are working on that, but I think it will take three generations or more). WASPs will generally insist upon a general, liberal arts education (I may be the only person in my family with a BSc). Take your pick.
There are also many other cultures that will pay lip service to education, and some that will not even do that. I doubt the NHI will let me say which one I am thinking of, but think small, South Eastern European country with a mob problem that begins with the letter A.