Remember when your math teacher asked you to show your work to find out how you arrived at your answer?
Brian Hatcher, the district math resource teacher for School District 57, knows the value of putting that thought process down on paper and wants to share those secrets with parents interested in trying to make sense of their kids' homework.
To teach parents about the ways of algebra, geometry and basic mathematics, he will be hosting a Parent Math Night on Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the Van Bien Training and Development Centre. 311 Wilson Cres.
"We just want to make parents more comfortable with the math their kids might be bringing home," said Hatcher.
"It would be nice if parents could help their kids with math or even if they were aware of what it is they are trying to do, because sometimes it looks pretty foreign compared to what they're used to.
Parents might know the answer but they really have no way of helping their child with getting the question. We just want to make them aware there are other ways of doing it, other than the way we were taught, and here's why we're trying to do it other ways."
Math teachers have traditionally required students to follow a specific logical steps to figure out the answers to math problems but quite often people devise their own algorithms to find the solution. Now, with the introduction of the B.C. Education Plan, teachers are being asked to be less rigid and more in tune with how personalized learning takes place and are encouraging students to use whatever method works for them, as long as it results in the right answers.
"A standard algorithm is the one that over time has been found to give you a correct answer using a small amount of paper or a small amount of work and it's usually a fairly quick way of doing," said Hatcher. "Everyone learns the standard algorithm the same way, so we can recognize the work, but it doesn't necessarily make the most sense. If a kid wants to do it their way, but the teacher is only showing the standard way, then the student says "This is stupid," or "The teacher's stupid," or "I'm stupid," and none of those are true. It's just a different way of doing it.
"The more options you have to [answer] that question, the more power you have over that question. So what we're trying to do is get kids to feel powerful rather than powerless in mathematics, something they understand and can use to solve problems."
The parent project began last year with monthly workshops. The Oct. 23 session is the second parent night event this school year and it's geared to math from kindergarten to Grade 3. The first, in September, touched on the Grade 4-7 level and attracted 27 parents.
"Everybody quite liked it, actually, and felt more understanding of what's going on and why things are being done the way they are," said Hatcher. "I gave them a website -- www.mail.sd57.bc.ca/~BHatcher -- where they can go to see 15-minute video tutorials on how math can be taught."
Parents interested in attending the tutorial should email Hatcher at bhatcc...@sd57.bc.ca.