A couple weeks ago, my middle school hosted a Family Math Night. It was really special to see students and their families participating in math games, creating math art, and exploring mathematical ideas. If your school has never put together a Family Math Night, FamilyMathNight.com has tips on how to get started, and a twitter search of “Family Math Night” will leave you with plenty more ideas for stations.
What stood out to me the most of the entire experience was that every person involved with Family Math Night knew that every station had to be fun and accessible.
As a result, there was a clear contrast of what was a valid and welcomed mathematical activity in Family Math Night versus our curriculum. That is, if creating tessellations and estimating quantities are valid activities for Family Math Night, there must be potential for math play, art and estimation as a regular part of our daily instruction. I immediately thought of Kassia Wedekind’s talk at ShadowCon 2017 on math play, and Sara VanDerWerf’s play tables as strong starting points.
I also noticed students and their families looked confused at some stations, often asking, “that’s it?” It seemed like the difficulty or math of the activity wasn’t clear and they were looking for the catch. How could we have made connections to our curriculum and the common core math practices, so that students and their families can have more conversations around math beyond our classrooms, and in their homes and communities?
We know math is everywhere, and mathematical agency starts with helping our students and families understand that.
-Posted on Global Math Department