The In Addition After-School Mathematics Project: Shaping the Teaching Self
The In Addition After School Mathematics Project is situated in a Catholic elementary school of a major metropolitan community. They serve twenty-four grade 3, 4, and 5 students and their parents. The families are of low socio-economic status. Their definition of “parent” includes any prime caregiver such as grandmother or uncle. The In Addition students are always selected by random lottery. The sole criterion for acceptance is a commitment for children to attend two hours a day, three days a week, from September through May. Parents and children attend two weekend retreats, Fall and Spring. They meet with parents once a month for math workshops at the children’s school- dinner served! The multiethnic group of children and their parents are of Latino, African-American, and European heritage. The first language of many parents is other than English. We provide translation services when needed.
Their philosophy echoes the recommendations of the National Research Council (National Research Council, 1989), the National Insitute on Out-of-School Time (National Institute on Out-of-School Time, 2000) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000). These leading organizations emphasize that it is essential to provide children with opportunities to be active participants in the development of their own mathematical understandings. We believe instruction is most meaningful when teachers use strategies that begin with children rather than with themselves or with a school mandated mathematics curriculum.
In its after school hours, In Addition facilitates the teaching and learning of mathematics without regular classroom constraints such as high-stakes testing and grades. Their children do not take part in after school test prep offerings. Math skills are developed by empowering children to voice their ideas, to work cooperatively with others and productively alone. Everyone- children, teachers, parents and community members- are involved. Students’ investigations are often linked to their neighborhoods and homes. Parent participation through monthly parents meetings and weekend retreats, provides both a support system for students and links among home, school and community. They help children to turn everyday questions into child-powered inquiries, to value persistence, revision and struggle in learning. Their research efforts stem directly from their work; observing and documenting life in the In Addition classroom and community as well as the experiences of parents and children during weekend retreats and parent meetings.