Curriculum Details for
Practitioner Expert Background
Two practitioners were interviewed for this review of Family Math. One practitioner has been a teacher for nine years, specifically teaching math to English language learners and Latino families. She has been teaching Family Math for two years to both families and students, generally 7-10 years old. The second practitioner has been a middle school teacher for 32 years and started using Family Math 12 years ago. Since then, she has started training others to use Family Math in afterschool programs. She primarily teaches grades 1 – 6, with a large Latino population.
- Two full-day training sessions, including overview of rationale and a chance to try out activities themselves.
- Practitioners felt like they needed more training. A follow-up training was offered a few weeks later, and after that, were made available over email.
- Some activities require access to resources such as water, space, etc., as well as other materials. This often requires additional preparation time.
- In addition to the afterschool setting, Family Math can be used with families and students at family centers, libraries, churches, festivals, and community centers. Can tailor and adjust the curriculum to the audience and setting.
- Format varies, one practitioner allowed for an hour and a half for each session, for four consecutive sessions over a period of several weeks. The other used it nearly every day in afterschool, for periods of about 30-40 minutes.
- Practitioners used Family Math with groups as large as 20 – 30 people (with two teachers), or smaller groups. Because of the game/station format, it is easy to accommodate small or large groups.
- Parents enjoy it, has seen many repeat families coming back for more.
- Students report becoming more comfortable with math as a result of using Family Math.
- Students, ages 9-16, who showed up at drop-in center stay for an hour or more to work with Family Math
- Hands-on and game aspects are liked the most by students.
- Non-stressful, game-like environment for learning math.
- Instead of worksheets and problems, the activities are engaging and game- and puzzle-like. Several activities include having to make things and doing activities that include cutting, drawing, and putting things together.
- Often times, students were given games to play at home with their families. Parents loved this, as all age levels were able to participate.
Adaptability to instructor needs
General skills taught
- Curriculum is intentionally open-ended and is accessible and adaptable to any age level and ability level.
- Flexible. For example, you can tailor one activity to many different abilities.
- Variety in types of activities and types of math.
Addressing diverse student needs
- Students are taught to question, formalize opinions and investigate problems.
- Communication skills and how to share ideas with others.
- Taking turns and working as part of a group.
- Uses visuals and manipulatives; works to touch on as many learning styles as possible.
- Family Math uses materials that are familiar to most people.
- Basic Family Math book is available in Spanish, but not all books are.
- Family Math is culturally sensitive, and can be easily and effectively brought into the community and be used in places where families and students are such as churches, etc.
- Can be hard for students who prefer to work alone.
Strengths and Challenges
- Portable, easy to take to different locations.
- Engaging, short activities.
- Accessible to a wide variety of learning styles.
- Spurs interest in math – students start enjoying and looking forward to it. Gives students a different way of looking at math.
- Develops a sense of numeracy and a deeper understanding of what is going on with math.
- Family Math presents a change in pedagogy; it can be difficult for teachers to change the way they have taught math.
- Does not explicitly prepare students for testing, although it does prepare them to become problem solvers.
- Instructor must obtain materials and supplies for activities.