Students “Rock” a Family Math Night

  Learning by teaching, Edgar Dale was an American educationist who developed the Cone of Experience, which is a conical display of what brain research shows. We remember 10% of what we hear, 10-15% of what we see, 15-20% of what we both see and hear, and 20-40% of what we discuss. We remember 40-80% of what we experience directly or practice doing, and 90% of what we attempt to teach others. As an educator these facts continually influence my approach to teaching, as well as the teaching of countless other educators.porcarelli1-11_17

Last week AIMS facilitator Heather Unger, who teaches in Madera, CA, organized most of the stations for their Family Math Night with a “kit” purchased by her district. She changed things up a bit by making the decision to train twenty-five 5th and 6th graders who volunteered to be student helpers facilitating each station. Heather believes that these students ultimately made the event a huge success and that involving them was the best decision she could have made. This made me think of Edgar Dale’s work – allowing these students to learn and facilitate the stations moved them up to the 90% level of remembering by teaching others.

porcarelli2-11_17Heather decided to supplement the district’s “kit” activities with an AIMS investigation called, “The Art of Hurling.” It is a great task/investigation that supports a multitude of Common Core Standards and the eight Math Practices. The AIMS investigation tests the results of a catapult made with plastic spoons and rubber bands which hurls marshmallows. (Heather had the students swap the marshmallows for candy corn pumpkins since it was a week before Halloween.) The students were responsible for teaching people at their station what a catapult was, how to make a catapult, and then to have their participants test their catapults and record their results. The three “Art of Hurling” station student helpers were amazing as they encouraged and questioned visiting students and their families. Heather shared that her two biggest take-a-ways from the event were that student helpers “rock” and the AIMS activity was one of the most popular stations.

Heather asked each one of the student helpers to reflect on their experience as an AIMS station facilitator and this is what they said:

  • Logan: “I loved knowing that I just taught a family something and knowing they were happy after they left our station. I also learned how to make a catapult.”
  • Zoha: “I learned how to build a catapult. I liked that I got to see families enjoying building their own catapult and I also liked that we got to teach little kids how to build a catapult.”
  • Aryan: “I learned how to cooperate, teach, and how to build a catapult. I also learned how to make people feel good after doing something.”porcarelli3-11_17

I hope that you are inspired like Heather was by students being the teachers. Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience was definitely influential as Heather planned her Family Math Night. What investigations will you choose for a Family Math Night at your school? How will you facilitate them?  I am interested to know.

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