Jump to content

Menu

Starting a Math Circle


Recommended Posts

I'm starting a math circle! This isn't something I ever pictured doing, but I think ds and his friends will get a lot out of it. I also own a TON of math games and supplementary resources, so I think I can get this going without investing in a lot more resources (I'm sure I'll find a few new ones though!). My goal is for the kids to see math as a fun subject, to cover some topics that may not come up in a regular curriculum, and to encourage them to problem-solve together. This is aimed at approximately grade 3/4.

 

Here's what I'm planning. Ds and 3 friends, meeting once per week for 1 to 1.5 hours. I plan to read a math picture book or excerpt from something longer (and mathy). We will work on a word problem or two together, solve a logic-based puzzle, and then play math games the rest of the time.

 

Does anyone have any btdt advice for me? If your children were attending this, what are some things you would want or not want us to do? If you are part of a math circle, what resources have you found most useful or fun? What is your favourite math game for four people?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have a lot of help to offer - just started attending a K-3 math circle (not always but > 50%) this year. Most days seem to use a lesson from this book http://www.amazon.com/dp/1470416956/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1BRGJQE27861N&coliid=I2Y3FX6RFB5XD0so that seems like a good resource. The other thing, which I don't know if it's possible for you, is that several individuals rotate between running the class each week. That seems like a great help to avoid overburdening any one person. I think the next group up is grades 4-6 and I'm not sure but I think they work a lot more on competition problems as opposed to more exploratory lessons.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That book looks really interesting; thank you for posting it. In the "look inside" pages it talked about not using something numerical for the first lesson, to set the tone that math is not all numbers, and to level the playing field of the students. I think that is a great idea. I might start off with cryptography puzzles.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone have any btdt advice for me? If your children were attending this, what are some things you would want or not want us to do? If you are part of a math circle, what resources have you found most useful or fun? What is your favourite math game for four people?

My two middles attended a professionally run math circle, and I ran two semester long math circles at co-op (one for 10-12 year olds, one for 5-7 year olds), and a few math meet ups with neighborhood kids.

 

I got a lot of inspiration watching their professional circle, and from taking a math circle web class from MoebiusNoodles.com. I also have this book http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0821887459/ref=mp_s_a_1_5?qid=1454916265&sr=8-5&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=math+circle&dpPl=1&dpID=41m84utFnpL&ref=plSrch and some random resources from online.

 

What works

- gathering activity that's fun/approachable and really gets you thinking but doesn't look too mathy at first sight

- having a single problem type or concept to focus on each week (eg symmetry, knights and Knaves, matchstick puzzles, topology, etc)

- asking lots of questions to the kids (and not too leading)

- taking what they say and helping them translate it into mathematics notation or vocabulary

- giving problems to work through together, and letting them come up front and explain their solution (my older group had take home challenge problems)

- teaching lots of games they can play anywhere (i.e. You don't have to buy them, like Pig or Nim, or you can print them up like Hex)

 

Check into LetsPlayMath and MathPickle for some ideas, along with MoebiusNoodles. We also watched videos from Numberphile and ViHart frequently. Also Family Math books for great activities. Our typical meeting went something like 1. Warm up problem on the board, 2. Sharing solutions from take home work, 3. Teaching new problem type or concept with games/manipulatives/practice problems, 4. Preview take home problems, 5. Free choice games.

 

Best Wishes!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I started up a math circle in the fall. It's geared toward homeschooling families, and our participants range in age from four to eleven, with most on the younger end of that. I'm working with a Math Ed professor (she was my adviser when I was doing my master's degree). We meet every other week, and at our last meeting we had 21 participants, plus their parents and quite a few younger siblings.

 

So my setting is a little different than yours will be, and not all of my issues will be your issues. :) 

 

When I say that our circle is geared toward homeschooling families, I mean that while we focus on teaching the kids new concepts, we also try to engage the parents during our sessions. We want to help parents see ways they can join with their kids in enjoyable exploration of mathematical ideas. So we do activities in our sessions that require parental interaction, and we offer suggestions for how parents can continue to explore a given concept at home. 

 

My general formula for a session is to have an opening activity (sometimes preceded by a review from the previous session), then a "circle time" sort of thing where we talk about the new concept and I introduce terms, show some pictures, talk about historical mathematicians, etc. Then another activity or two, usually involving interaction with the parents at this point, and then snack time. 

 

I have the books mentioned in previous posts, plus this one, which has actually been the most useful to me because the majority of our participants fall in that age range. I've also found the websites of other math circles helpful, in particular the Los Angeles Math Circle, which has handouts from previous sessions available. (Some others do too, but again, my crew is younger than usual math circle groups, so they're not all relevant to us.)

 

Um...not sure what else. I do often do things like telling the kids to go do such-and-such activity with their parents and then realizing that while I'm trying to be the circulating teacher, my own kids are standing there like, "uh, mom? you're kind of our parent..." ;) So I have to remember to ask a friend if they'll be willing to be substitute parents for my kids during that time, lol.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've used the Math Circle Diaries book for grades 5-7. I used it for 6th graders and really liked it, but I'm not sure how well it goes down to the grades you are talking about.

I tried using this book this year with my group of mostly fifth graders. I had to ditch it because one kid was way better and it was too difficult to differentiate.

 

Now I'm doing Middle School Mathematics Project : Spatial Visulization. It was difficult to figure the book out at first but now that I have, I'm liking it a lot. Once we finish it, we'll do a bit more from the Middle School Mathematics Diary book.

 

We start with a warm up. The kids really like matchstick puzzles so that's what we do. Then we work together for about an hour on the lesson.

 

ETA: I have 5 kids in the group which is a good number for me. I find it easier to have one on one time with each kid when the group is smaller.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, number of participants! I think there's a minimum threshold somewhere around 4 or 5 (so they can exchange ideas and play games) and a maximum depending on age and if you have help. My younger circle had 12 kids, but another mom was full time assisting. My older circle had 7 or 8, with another parent that jumped in now and again as needed. I liked keeping the older group smallish because it gave them each a chance to come in front of the group and share their solutions.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...