Elementary math night adds up to fun

Learning math after the school bell rings isn't so bad, parents and students of East Elementary School learned Tuesday night.

About 30 families showed up for the first-of-its-kind Family Math Night.

Parent-student teams wandered through school classrooms playing math games that teachers hope families will make a regular part of the home learning environment.

"There are lots of chances for you to do math with your children," said Kathryn Arroyo, the math representative for the school. "You can ask how many forks are on the table and how much silverware there is total. When you're traveling, ask how many legs are there on five cows. Parents can make opportunities for math all the time."

East Elementary School teachers planned the Family Math Night in lieu of the regular Parent Accountability Committee (PAC) meeting. PAC members have planned to offer an activity similar to Tuesday's math night during some regularly scheduled meetings.

The goal is to increase parent attendance at the meetings while giving them a chance to help in their child's education, PAC members said.

The one-hour math night was also a part of the Moffat County School District's overall push to help students improve math scores, said Cassia McDiffit, district math specialist.

"The whole premise is that parents often know how to read to their children but with math it's not so obvious," she said.

McDiffit provided worksheets for students to beef up math skills.

Third-grade student Sharlena Peterson and her mother, Sue, practiced fitting geometric shapes onto a worksheet in one classroom.

Helping Sharlena with her math homework is difficult because of the varying ways to teach the subject, Sue Peterson said.

"I know how to do it, but sometimes it's harder to explain it to her so she won't get confused," Sue Peterson said. "She's having a hard time in school so I thought this might be a fun way to learn some math."

East Elementary School, like the district's other schools, is revamping the way it teaches math. Many teachers are trying to infuse conceptual ways of thinking about math into the standard memorization practices.

In recent years district efforts have focused sharply on increasing students' literacy skills.

That emphasis has changed due to district schools reporting low math scores on some state accountability tests.

"We've been so focused on literacy that we want to balance it out with mathematics a little bit," said East Elementary Principal Diana Cook. "Some children have capabilities in mathematics and we wanted them to have a chance to shine."

Cook hoped the results of efforts like Tuesday's math night would result in more enthusiasm for math among students.

"I want more children to begin seeing math as less of drudgery," Cook said. "We're trying show students to look at math through that kind of lens."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or by email at ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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