Math night at HMS Jan. 24

Haleyville Middle School students Elijah Hood, Donovan Hoon and Jackson Mize work on a math concept project.

HALEYVILLE       -  Parents having difficulties helping their children with math homework have an opportunity to attend a public workshop Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Haleyville Middle School to help them better understand the concepts behind what is commonly referred to by parents as “New Math.”
Parents of middle school students, as well as all other interested parents are invited to the HMS library at 6 p.m.
“We are not excluding anybody,” noted HMS Assistant Principal Dr. Elyse Aldridge. “We want people to come and ask questions.”
  The workshop will allow educators to explain to parents the current state-required process of teaching math to students, followed by break-out sessions for respective grade levels so parents can see the teaching methods first-hand.  During the break-out sessions, HMS math teachers at each grade level will be in their classrooms for parents to visit to ask questions, according to HMS Principal Bo Wilcoxson.
While math has not changed, the method in which it is taught has changed, in accordance with guidelines from the Alabama Department of Education.  This new approach to teaching math and how solutions to a problem are found may not be understood by parents, as they strive to help their children at home, so the workshop is crucial, stressed  Aldridge.
Educators heard concerns from parents, especially during the extended absence of kids from school, when they were doing assignments from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, she added.
“We want to try and help bridge that gap between us and parents.  That way, we are all on the same page with the kids,” Aldridge pointed out.
HMS math teacher Lynsi Fincher noted the goal of how math is taught today is to turn out math-minded students who are able to apply what they learn and have more understanding of math concepts. This replaces the older, but not obsolete classroom style of memorization, teachers said.
“Any of us can memorize a set of vocabulary words, do good on a test and not ever use those words again,” Fincher illustrated. “The way I was taught in high school is different from the way I teach now.
“I was taught, step 1, step 2, step 3, and do the problem,” Fincher continued. “What we’re trying to do is let students know the how and why behind the math they are using so they can apply it later. If we can show them several different ways to solve a problem, then they can use whatever is best for them, whatever way they truly understand it.”
In other words, math is no longer taught in a certain sequence to solve an equation or problem.  Rather, the application for solving the problem is taught while applying it to a particular situation, creating a real world example.
“You still get the same answer; it’s just a different way,” Aldridge explained.
HMS math teacher Mandy Townsend  noted textbooks are not an item of the past, but teachers now also use different technologies to teach math, technologies that weren’t available years ago.
“As a math team, we want parents as much involved as possible.  That is what creates successful students.  If parents are able to help their child at home, then it makes it more successful for us and them,” Townsend said.
Educators also realize that parents may be scared of technology, so the workshop will show them the methods teachers use in the classroom and how students arrive at the answer to a problem differently than their parents may have done when they were in school.
“It’s a way to put the parents and the students in the same classroom to let them see what it is like and how they can help,”  Townsend said.
“What we want to get out to parents is how involved they are is almost always a direct reflection on how successful their child is at school,” Aldridge said.  “The kids, especially middle school age, are not quite ready to take on their education 100 percent by themselves. It really does take everybody - at home and in school -to keep them involved and accountable for their learning.”
When asked if lower math scores from students on standardized testing attributed to the need to have math night, Aldridge responded, “No, we are doing really good.”
 Educators are hoping for a big turnout.
“Let’s all team up to do this for the kids,” Aldridge said.

See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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