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Midvale Journal

Copperview family math week goes ‘old school,’ with new twist

Feb 03, 2022 03:20PM ● By Julie Slama

Copperview’s younger students practiced their addition, while older students learned multiplication, as part of the elementary school’s math week. (Photo courtesy of Emily Heath, Pam Schuller and Abby Rockefeller)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Copperview Elementary students are finding new avenues to learn.  

While many have navigated the virtual learning when schools closed their doors in spring 2020, now they’re participating in the family math week—rather than math night—through take home kits.

In each kit, students had sets of flashcards, which Community School Facilitator Jenna Landward learned were hard to come by during the supply chain shortage. School officials ended up making several sets so that the younger grades received addition cards while older students took home multiplication flash cards.

The concept with the flash cards has a new approach. First, the students were to review them one by one and identify which they knew and those they did not. After that, students were to start with 10 cards—seven they knew and three they didn’t. The goal, Landward said, was to practice several times so they can master the unknown as well. After that, students were to take out three well-known equations and substitute those for three new flash cards they have yet to learn.

“It’s an evidence-based strategy for students to learn the unknowns, but not be so overwhelmed with learning so many at once that they become frustrated,” she said. “This helps them learn, review and gain confidence and have a sense of achievement as they master more equations.”

Kindergartners were encouraged to practice counting and recognize their numbers.  

There also were number lines for students to place beans on so they could practice their counting and memorization or to use to solve equations.

“We hope to be able to introduce subtraction and division flash cards to our students so they can practice with those as well,” Landward said. “We felt strongly that we wanted to do something and while the pandemic continues, this was a way we could engage our families and our community into supporting learning.”

Early on, Landward was tracking about 85 of the 420 students, about 20%, who were participating in the family math week.

“For our first attempt at virtual participation, I feel really good about it,” she said. “We’re able to give tools to our families at home how they can best support their children learning. We started simple, and they don’t have to worry about any technology issues to do it. Those families who are engaging in it are loving it.”

While the school’s students and families speak several native languages, first-grade teacher Pam Schuller said that this activity is one that bridges all languages.

“Parents that have done this activity speak in Farsi, Kurdish, Spanish and English,” said the teacher who had the most students participating in her class. “This was an awesome experience.”