Posts Tagged ‘Math Circle’

Unschoolers’ Math Circle

February 8, 2017

Last week, I told you about a Math Circle for Teachers my colleagues and I created. I simultaneously created a math circle for a variety of homeschooled kids known as “unschoolers;” this math circle is really just a math circle that I created for my kids.

My kids are 5- and 7-years old, and finding appropriate problems for them is more difficult for me than for the teachers. Fortunately, Zhvokin and Rozhkovskaya have written great books from which to steals problems. I also supplement them with activities from Christopher Danielson, as well as activities I used with my mathematics for elementary education majors (made age-appropriate).

I have had a good turnout so far. We have been meeting monthly for 1.5 years now, and I usually get 7–12 students per session (we usually do two groups of 5ish, since I am not the best at “classroom management”). We use a room at the public library.

This is has been a lot of fun, and it has been remarkably easy to set up (though my wife, who is much more socially connected than I am, rounded up the kids who are not related to me). It is also an interesting task for me to think about what mathematical ideas are important for 6-year olds to know, and then to design a lesson that gets at it that is fun and educational.

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Teachers’ Math Circle

February 1, 2017

I started a Math Circle for K-12 teachers last year with three of my colleagues. Roughly, a Math Circle is just a place where people get together and work on interesting math problems. So far, it has been a wonderful experience. I got to fly to Denver to get some training, and we have had a great time putting it together.

We have started off by focusing on 6–12 teachers, and we have had only a tiny bit of success. We have seen a total of four different teachers, with two of the teachers being dedicated regulars (and a third possibly joining them now). This could be a little weird, with a 2-to-1 professor-to-teacher ratio, but it has not been. The sessions have been a lot of fun, and the actual dynamic is that one of the professors leads the session and everyone else acts as a student (and the leader of the session is often a student, too, since s/he also often has not thought too deeply about the problems). We have been meeting 3–4 times per year.

Our budget so far has been $0, although we have tried to get several grants. The National Association of Math Circles has been supportive, though, even sending us a Math Circle starter pack. We hope to get some money to provide dinners for the teachers eventually. We are able to offer them “continuing education” credits, which helps them renew their teaching licenses (these don’t cost us anything; we just get a little help from the chair of our Education Department, who needs to sign them).

The Math Circle has been a fun and interesting experience with a shockingly low start-up cost and time investment. Let me know if you have questions about starting one.