Homer Alaska - Schools

Story last updated at 1:39 PM on Wednesday, April 4, 2012

'Family math night' attracts students, families

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Photo by McKibben Jackinsky

Lisa Hanson and her 6-year-old sons Austin and Luke, first-grade students at Chapman School, fill out raffle tickets during the school's family math night on March 29.


From left, Melissa , Shana and Warren Baxter put their math know-how to work with a game during Family Math Night at Chapman School. "Really fun," was how 8-year-old Melissa described math. Warren, 7, said his favorite part of math was addition.


Chapman music teacher Eric Simondsen and the school's physical education and fourth-grade teacher Mary Simondsen put their math skills to the test during Chapman's Family Math Night.

Young and old, parents and teachers, students and siblings learned a lot at Chapman School's Family Math Night on March 29.

For Kaytlin MacAnelly, a 6-year-old kindergarten student, it was an opportunity to sharpen and show off her measuring skills in front of 3-year-old sister Valerie. Eighth-graders Wyatt Frank and Caleb Appelhanz, and seventh-grader Katrina Appelhanz used their geometry know-how to follow directions for cutting puzzle pieces to the correct angles.

It was a lesson in parenting for Shana Baxter as she watched Melissa, 8, and Warren, 6, struggle with the problem of fitting six blocks of wood into a box.

"The next time you tell me your clothes won't fit in your drawer ... ," said a laughing Baxter, the sentence unfinished, but the meaning understood.

For teachers Linda Harris and Donna Austin, deciphering directions for one of the games was an opportunity to understand some new math vocabulary.

The evening's projects, games and puzzles fit goals Principal Conrad Woodhead and his faculty and staff have set for the 131 K-8 students in Anchor Point's Chapman School.

"The two goals this year focus on math and writing. This is one of the ways we're helping make math a priority," he said.

"It gets parents involved, gets the kids excited. We thought it was a good time to do it, right before (standards based assessment) testing."

Chapman teacher Chris Crum, who helped coordinate the event, said math night added a fun way for families and kids to see math in action.

"It's something we, as the staff, wanted to do for the community, for the families," said Crum.

Chapman's spotlight on math is clear from the moment students walk in the school's front door. Posted on the wall beside Woodhead's office is a "math" board with questions appropriate for each grade level.

"That's designed by our Quest teacher, Karen Weston," said Woodhead. "We encourage parents and students to work together to come up with solutions."

The questions change every week. Their complexity increases with every two grade levels.

For instance, kindergarten students last week were asked: If Dana has eight kittens and Dori has 13 piglets, how many animals do they have together?

Seventh- and eighth-grade students were asked to follow the following: The Sandy City swim program has 10 more girls than boys enrolled. Each swimmer is learning one swim stroke. Half the girls are learning the crawl. Three times as many girls are learning the sidestroke as are learning the breast stroke. Only three girls are learning the butterfly stroke. There is one more girl learning the breaststroke than the butterfly. How many boys and girls are enrolled in the swim program altogether?

Woodhead said feedback about Family Math Night has been positive. He also was pleased to see an estimated 75-100 people in attendance.

"It says a lot about our community and the relationship our school has with our community," said Woodhead.

"With the success of this one, we'll meet with staff and definitely try to plan more opportunities like this in the future."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.