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Education column: Math games way to spend Monday evening

What can you periodically do on a Monday evening for family entertainment? For one thing, Gattis Middle School students can gather at school with their parents and siblings for a fun-filled evening of math games.

If you don’t think that sounds like fun, you haven’t attended one of these gatherings.

Sitting down recently with Deborah Davidsen, Gattis algebra teacher, we learned about this great parent involvement initiative. The first “Family Math Night” was held on Sept. 15; the second will be on Nov. 17. The next two events will also be held on Monday evenings, on Feb. 2 and April 13, all at the same time: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The idea of a Family Math Night is in keeping with expanded efforts to encourage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects. Such an event presents an opportunity for students to showcase their math skills while involving parents and community members.

The evening format entailed converting the main hall of Gattis into a sort of gallery of math game stations. All grade level math teachers were in the midst of the activity. Seventh-grade math teacher Averi Thomas served as master of ceremonies and fame facilitator; Luis Campoz, also seventh-grade math, was a game facilitator. Sixth-grade math teachers Kim DeFoor and Chesnea Clemmons helped out with concessions and signing-in/greeting participants. Dustie Gonzalez, eighth- grade math, was a game facilitator, and seventh-eighth-grade resource/inclusion teacher Dawn Gritters-Nugent helped out with concessions. Instructional coach Stacey Burdett was on board for the evening for whatever else needed doing. Our Cannon Air Force Base liaison, Lori Dunn, community readiness specialist, ran the sign-in table.

An integrated curriculum approach is used at our middle schools. Teachers from each content subject area work with their randomly grouped teams of students in academics in addition to other activities. The teams at Gattis are: Panda, Koala, Green Lantern, Mean Green, Kodiak, and Grizzly. The teams — teachers and students alike — develop strong team loyalty, as evidenced during Family Math Night. There was clearly some competition for highest number of math games completed, number of participants attending, and visitors brought.

As students arrived and signed in, they received raffle tickets for prizes given away during the evening. The prizes, created by teachers, were themed gift baskets containing a variety of goodies: model kits, food items, snacks, and so forth. Students — along with parents and siblings, if they chose — competed in math games covering division, multiplication, division compare, and word problems, and no calculators could be used for completing the games. Seems that some of the parents were surprised and pleased at our students’ dazzling math skills.

For the November Family Math Night, the rigor will be bumped up a bit, and it will be open to sixth-seventh- and eighth-graders interested in flexing those math muscles.

Who would have thought math could offer a fun evening? Just put together a group of creative teachers and staff, students and parents, and stand back. Fun stuff will happen.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the instructional technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at:

[email protected]