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Math program adds up to a lot of fun

Havre Public Schools are continuing on Friday the campaign to show how math can be fun and easy.

The program has had some popular activities already this year, and Friday, from 2:20 p. m. until the end of the school day at 3:20 p. m., it is Sunnyside Intermediate School's turn to show families of students what math and the school's new math curriculum can do.

"The idea of the Family Fun Friday is to give parents a chance to come into the school and see some of the things kids are doing, " said Leslie Staples, a fourth-grade teacher who is coordinating the event. "We want to teach kids and families how to play these games, so they can have fun playing games and working on their math skills. "

Families of fourth-graders are encouraged to come any time during that hour into the classroom and see what students have been learning this year, with different levels of demonstration to deepen their understanding of math techniques, a part of the new math program.

In line with the new math program's Depth Of Knowledge concepts, the activities are made to achieve deeper understanding, first with physical objects, like a dice game. From there, students move to writing the problems on paper and working a little more abstractly.

The third and deepest level of understanding comes when students don't even need paper, but have the abstract concepts down and can do the math entirely in their heads.

Tom Korst, HPS assistant superintendent and advocate of the DOK system, said the event is great because it is "getting some involvement back in our schools, with our community, doing so with math and making learning math fun. "

Previous math events, including a large evening one at Lincoln-McKinley Primary School a few weeks ago, have been surprisingly successful.

Korst said he was "shocked in a good way, " when he saw the crowd of nearly 400 people at Lincoln-McKinley for that event.

Cars, he said, were parked all along the street of the school, which is adjacent to St. Jude Thaddeus Church.

"I thought everybody was at the Catholic church, " said Korst. "I thought, 'holy cow. '"

Superintendent Andy Carlson was also blown away by the community's participation in the Lincoln-McKinley event, telling the Board of Trustees last week that there wasn't a free seat in the building.

"I know, because I was looking for a place to sit and rest, " Carlson said last week.

"Who would have thought you could bring in that many people to do math? " Carlson said. "I was very proud of the school and folks for putting that together and making that such a successful event.

"I know I can't draw that many people when it's just me talking. "

Nearly all of the schools in the district have hosted similar events already this year, and Friday's at Sunnyside won't be the last, not as long as math invokes the unfortunate reaction it currently does for most people.

"Most often when we have people come into the school, you'll hear them say 'I'm not good at math, '" said Vicky Michels, another fourth-grade teacher coordinating Friday's event. "It's sad because people don't see math as an integral part of their everyday life, they see it as something separate. But it's just a language we use every day. "


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