Math Nights full of enrichment, joy

Leslie Dougherty, a fourth grade teacher and special education teacher loves teaching math.

“In the past two years, I have taught using math stations,” she said. “This allows me to work with small groups at their level.”

But keeping concepts fresh in students’ minds can still be a challenge, and district-wide “Math Nights” have aimed to change all that, offering a chance to reinforce the concepts from class even more, using exciting games and activities. Additionally, parents learn what their children are picking up in class, said Dougherty.

And once parents and students have come together at Math Nights, they can “continue [to explore] math in their homes,” said Dougherty. She was thrilled to see five students from her class during the last Math Night.

According to Dougherty, the practice of flexing one’s math skills leads to stronger “numeracy skills” and greater application of math concepts.

Stephanie Joyce,  an intervention teacher at Crocker Farm, and the Title I coordinator for the ARPS district, enjoys teaching AVMR math, an acronym for a program called Add+VantageMR®, “a course that includes dynamic, diagnostic, individual assessments in number words and numerals, structuring numbers, and addition and subtraction strategies.” 

“Teaching math has been enhanced and supported by ongoing district professional development in AVMR math,” Joyce said. 

She explained that this development has promoted “continuity for our students in building foundational approaches to conceptual understandings.” It also increases flexible thinking about applying math skills “as learning spirals across grade levels.”

Best of all, Joyce said, Math Nights create a supportive environment for students.

Joyce’s favorite part of Math Night is that volunteers from ARHS come to help out. Geoff Friedman, district math coordinator, invited these high school students to help with the running of games. 

“Seeing [high school] students serving as role models for our students” is a highlight, Joyce said, noting they didn’t just help run the events, they also pitched in to help clean up afterward. 

Additionally, students from Amherst College and Mount Holyoke brought in some new games for Math Night.

At Crocker Farm Elementary, where “family engagement is an important value, Math Night brings families together to share a meal and then to [participate in all] kinds of math activities,” said Joyce. The Parent Guardian Organization provides the food at each event.  

She said that teachers worked together to plan the event, and students “across all grade levels participated.”

“Those meaningful connections between staff and between students make Crocker Farm the kind of school that enriches us all,” she said.

Mary Lambert, a math specialist for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, has been teaching in the district for 23 years. 

“My primary work now includes math intervention support, in-class math support, and coaching teachers,” she said. Her role is often referred to as being a Math Recovery Champion.

For Lambert, Math Nights firm up the connection between families and the school, shining a light on why what students learn in school is so important. A recent Math Night she worked at had over 75 attendees.

“For many of the activities I have copies of games to go home for families to share,” said Lambert, “and I find that after Math Night I hear from families asking for even more games or more ideas to help their children grow in mathematics.” 

“At Math Night, the student is in a relaxed space, with family and friends, working on skills that are going to grow their independence in math class,” she said.