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Workshop focuses on unity in learning

DEERING – How can you mix mathematics with food?<!—->.

Thursday, February 08, 2001

DEERING – How can you mix mathematics with food?

Attend Dawson-Bryant Elementary’s "Munching Into Math" night this month and eat your way through some numbers, assistant principal Susan Heyard said.

"We’ll be doing fun math math with things you can eat," Mrs. Heyard said.

The family workshop is designed to bring kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade students and their parents together with their teachers. And, it’s one way to practice skills the young students will encounter as they move through the elementary, Mrs. Heyard said.

It’s all part of the school’s outreach to families.

Last month, the school held a proficiency test information night where third- through fifth-grade parents heard tips about how they can help their children reach state learning goals – which are tested on proficiency exams.

"One of the things all our school districts are emphasizing is extended response," Mrs. Heyard said. "They have to be able to form ideas on paper."

In reading and writing tests, questions often ask students for essays and paragraphs.

While at home, students can gain valuable practice, teachers said. Parents can:

– Encourage writing short, concise sentences with solid content.

– Read every day, even if it’s just 10 to 15 minutes. Read with them, and if they struggle tell them to put the book down for a while, then come back to it.

– Take books or homework to the doctor’s office, or have them read a story out loud while riding in the car.

To practice more in-depth skills, like writing extended answers, teachers encourage parents to:

– Ask questions, or have them retell a story.

– Have them write out a different ending, which boosts comprehension, writing and creativity skills.

Although most of the math proficiency is multiple choice and short answer questions, about 15 percent of it requires extended answer skills, teachers say.

It’s important to show work, too, because there is partial credit available on the math proficiency.

For example, a test question might consist of a picture of a calculator, two numbers and an answer but the operation – addition, subtraction, multiplication or division – is not given. Students must reason out which math function occurred.

They may also be asked to write explanations of mathematical graphs and charts, which means they need logic skills.

In citizenship, parents can help students learn to read maps – an important skill tested – and talk about local histories. In science, students can practice skills at home by sorting socks, which teaches them to classify objects by traits like they do in biology, or bake cookies, which teaches measurements.

The whole idea is to become a teaching team, Mrs. Heyard said.