Local youths recently had cause to get excited about an age-old GPA slayer: math. During July 14-18, The Ohio State Univeristy at Mansfield, Lucas Schools and Mansfield City Schools banned together to “empower” young students to excell in, and be excited about, mathematics.
“We're trying to emulate how real mathematicians work – and that's different than how a traditional math class works. We're giving students opportunities to be mathematicians,” said Associate Professor of Education Terri Bucci.
The enthusiasm appears to have grown since last year's camp. Last year's attendance was 70 students from the Mansfield School District. This past week was the second annual Math Camp for Mansfield City Schools, which was held at Springmill Learning Center and in classrooms at the Mansfield OSU campus- the attendance was approximately 170 students, which includes students from Lucas. Lucas will have camp from Aug. 4-8.
The Math Camp was made possible by a $203,000 Ohio Board of Regents grant program called CAMP (Collaborative Application of Mathematics Pedagogy). Thirty-two teachers from Mansfield and Lucas participated in the two-week-long Math Camp under the grant.
They spent the first week in training, learning principles of a national initiative known as the Algebra Project. They are a “nonprofit organization that uses mathematics as an organizing tool to ensure quality public school education for every child in America.”
The 32 teachers received differentiated teaching depending on their level of experience with the Algebra Project, but on Thursday and Friday they were all able to convene to prepare a lesson plan for the following week when the elementary students were scheduled to come.
In addition to the 32 teachers operating under the grant, there were three different groups of teachers hired by their school districts to teach during the Math Camp.
There were 10 “camp teachers,” teachers hired by either Mansfield City School District or Lucas School District. Additionally, a group made up of Ohio State Education majors and individuals from Young People's Project (YPP) taught special classes with a variety of activities.
Math Camp's objective is to make mathematical principles relavent in the youth's daily lives. Activities like throwing bean-bags a measured length, measuring objects with sticks found in nature, and making clocks out of candy were just a few examples of how teachers reinforced this objective.
Allyson Leedy, a camp teacher from Mansfield City Schools apart from the grant program, was able to observe participant teachers and glean handy techniques. Leedy teaches pre-school for Mansfield and she said her passion is teaching math.
“Coming here has reinvigorated my passion for teaching math. I mean, when a kid's eyes light up when talking about a clock, that's cool. They are learning that math is not just a set of equations,” shared Leedy.
Leedy is part of a different group of teachers from Mansfield who did not participate in the CAMP grant program, but was instead a teacher for Mansfield's separate summer educational camp.
Angela Hartz was a participating teacher. Her role is to observe lessons to understand student behaviors toward mathematics. She said she appreciates the methods of the Algebra Project.
“The methods are really good. The teachers ask them what they (the students) know. Seeing kids respond to it is neat,” said Hartz.
Hartz taught second grade at Newman Elementary before it was shut down as part of the reduction in force process earlier in the year. Her immediate plans are undetermined, however she said she will be involved with the Algebra Project as much as possible.
Amy Bradley, a second grade teacher at Prospect Elementary in Mansfield, was also a participating teacher. She said she hated math before being involved with the Algebra Project.
“I was terrible at it growing up. And because of that, I hated teaching it, too. But now, after three years of it, I love it and I want my students to be confident with math,” said Bradley.
Many teachers enjoy that “aha moment” – when their students' faces signify understanding a certain lesson or topic. Bradley said there were many of those moments during the week.
“Oh yeah. There have been plenty of those 'aha moments.' There's excitement and they're having fun. They love it,” shared Bradley.
For more information about Math Camp, contact Dr. Terri Bucci, Ph.D, at 419-755-4243.