Table of Contents
Access Opportunity Introduction
While reading literacy nights were already common when I got to my school, math literacy nights were not. Our students need assistance in both, and families are a huge component of helping students reach proficiency in both. I did research into math literacy nights, as is attached, and decided that it seemed like a great opportunity for my school. I hoped the event would increase families’ access to information on the new math curriculum, how their child was doing, and how they can assist their child at home.
Access Opportunity Research and Plan
Literacy nights are common events to increase parental engagement and share reading strategies with families (McGahey 2005). A math literacy night can serve a similar function, teaching parents “new math” strategies, engaging families, and having math manipulatives to give away. We would both inform families about the math their children are learning, having them sit in on a sample mini-lesson, and have families do math games and activities with their children.
Parental engagement and mindsets are crucial for the success of students (Usher and Kober, 2012, p.5). Parents frequently believe that since math is not as useful as the math they had growing up, and parents are frequently confused when helping their children with their homework because math techniques have changed. Increasing contact between math teachers and parents will encourage parents to be open-minded about new math techniques. Student success is linked with parental engagement, so our scholars will ultimately be the ones who benefit when parents are engaged.
In addition to math activities and giving away manipulatives, we can also increase students’ exposure to STEM careers. Students are frequently unaware about what careers are available or what the real-world applications of mathematics are (Conley and McGaughy, 2012), so in addition to math games, we can expose students to math career pathways. There can be an informational station where students can see what careers use specific skills they learn in class, such as proportional relationships being used by stock brokers. If resources allow, we can also seek out volunteers from the community to have a question and answer session where they discuss the applications of mathematics in their day to day work.
I will be partnering with the PTO to get more parent volunteers to help run math literacy night. I will also work with the rest of the math department to ensure that the event is being promoted to all of our students across the building. I will also see if I can give extra PBIS points to students who bring their families to math literacy night.
I intend for parents to feel like they are equipped with new strategies to help their children. I will have a brief survey at the end that parents will fill out to get their raffle ticket for our giveaways that asks them if they gained new math knowledge and strategies to help their scholar. My students will be better equipped to achieve 80% mastery if they have more support at home to understand and complete their assignments.
Parent engagement is traditionally low at most events, so I will need to market the even heavily to families. Additionally, the entire math team will need to be on board, including SPED teachers, to maximize turnout and reach the most students.
All three grade levels will need to be represented, so teachers will be sure to pick out CCSS standards from all grades to have in the math games at the event. Probability standards in particular are very easy to integrate with games, as most non-explicitly math games use them anyways.
Why a math literacy night?
A math literacy night is similarly easy to physically provide students, as there are minimal outside resources that must be brought to the school. Instead, the main obstacle will be ensuring staff and community members are invested in providing the literacy night as well. Parental engagement dramatically increases student success (Powerschool, 2016). Parents will be better equipped to help their students with their homework and feel a stronger connection with teachers by attending a math literacy night at school. I selected this resource because it was the only one that actively engaged parents and other school staff, which maximizes overall impact on students. Additionally, most educational focus is on providing traditional literacy nights, so most of our students have not been exposed to an opportunity like a math literacy night before. As long as the activities provided are interesting to students and parents so that both come away with new strategies, academic achievement should be increased as well.
Preparation by the Math Team
I proposed at our weekly math team LEAP seminar that we organize a parent math literacy night similar to the English department. Most teachers were very receptive to the idea, although some were skeptical that the time effort may not be worth it. We discussed as a department that even if we only reached 10% of parents, that would still have a very positive effect on the school community as a whole and increase student achievement.
Below is the powerpoint we showed parents as a math team:
The math team had never before collectively worked on a school event, which provided a great opportunity to increase parent engagement in an academically relevant area. Students are provided the unique opportunity to have their parents better supported in their knowledge of the middle school math curriculum. It is not regionally obvious or readily available to engage parents in such a way, as literacy nights are often reserved only for English. While schools often pay lip service to parent engagement, parents are rarely engaged in such an explicitly academic way.
After the introductory parent presentation, students went to a variety of stations. Many of these stations demonstrated math in a hands-on way, whether it be making slime with ratios, analyzing music with integers, or making predictions with probability. We also provided space for families to ask questions about some “new math” techniques, such as tape diagrams. The night finished off with a taco bar and a chance to mingle with families and staff.
As pictured above, students and families engaged with a variety of stations that increased their mathematical knowledge and knowledge of the common core curriculum. On the top left, students and families are using a sample from a box of froot loops to predict how many foot loops are in the box. On the bottom left, families are being walked through how to solve problems in a common core math style. On the bottom right, families are learning how to use knowledge of equivalent ratios to create slime. Through educational activities designed to engage both adult and child learners, families and students walked away from the experience better equipped to tackle common core math problems.
Families kept track of their progress through each of the different stations on a scorecard, pictured above. With a completely filled out scorecard, families were able to enter a raffle for prizes. This encouraged families to attend all of the stations in order to learn about a variety of math concepts from a variety of angles.
Teachers from other departments assisted with the event as well. Pictured above, the music teacher did a workshop on how to practice mathematical concepts through music. This provides families with a fun way to review numeracy with their scholars.
Over 100 families showed up to the event, which is an even higher turnout than the English department’s literacy night usually gets. Many families said that the sessions were interesting and would help them help their child with their math homework. Many families also specifically cited that the station format was very useful, as it allowed them to interact with both the material and their child more.
Students also highly enjoyed the event, as the math was interactive and they got to show their parents what math knowledge they had. Many students commented that they did not know math could be so fun, and that they loved being smart in front of their parent. In addition to providing the unique opportunity for parents to be educated on common core math strategies, this event also provided students the unique opportunity to teach their parents some of their math knowledge.