The initial goal was to help parents develop a better understanding of how and why math concepts are taught a certain way in today’s classroom; the result was an extremely well-attended night of educational fun, with one parent commenting, “Where are all these families headed to, a basketball game?” The response was “No, they’re here to do math!”
Mighty Math Night, attended by 500 people, was created by North Colonie’s team of instructional math coaches for students and their families, grades K-6. Throughout the evening, grade level workshops were held for parents and children separately. Students learned math games in designated classrooms, and parents were involved in interactive workshops that focused on age-appropriate math strategies that are being taught. In addition, the reasoning behind the strategies was also discussed.
“We were beyond excited with the turnout for Mighty Math Night,” said Instructional Math Coach, Renata Relyea. “Not only did the elementary students get to play fun math games, but they also had the opportunity to see how math is used in real life by visiting the Career and Technical Education exhibits. Parents also had an opportunity to experience the various math strategies used in their child’s classroom. It was a win-win situation for both parents and students.”
Students completed a rotation through stations of math activities, leaving with some new games designed to be played at home. The older students started with warm-up activities, and eventually began to practice equivalent fractions, decimal place value and fact fluency. Meanwhile, their parents were learning about bar models and visual models that represent the strategies being taught every day.
“We know from experience and research that students’ attitudes about mathematics go hand in hand with their achievement in mathematics,” said Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Kathleen Skeals. “From the earliest grades, the pictures, models, and/or strategies help students to understand the mathematical concepts that they will need as they progress through mathematics. Mighty Math Night gave children and parents a fun opportunity to see the steps that create the mathematical staircase of complexity which is the foundation of mathematics instruction.”
Once parents completed the information session, they returned to the student classrooms to try out the new math games their children were learning. Outside the classrooms, Shaker High School capstone engineering students and members of Shaker High School Robotics were on hand to talk with parents and students about math is being used in practical form at the high school level.
“I am extremely excited about the success of our first ever Mighty Math Night,” said event Chair, Lindsay Tresansky. “Parents learned about some of our district’s best practices in the math classroom and children engaged in fun concept-building math games. It was especially heart-warming to hear our youngest participants leaving the event talking about the robot they saw and asking when they could play their math games again.”