Students make great Family Math Night Station Facilitators. As much as I can, I use students in grades 5 and up to run my stations.
– It’s a great leadership opportunity.
– It shows them respect when you trust them with the responsibility of being in charge of their station.
– They develop inter-personal skills working with both their peers and adults.
– Their own learning and understanding is underscored when they show others how to do a task.
About a week before the event I hold a meeting with all my student station facilitators. The meeting runs between one hour and 1 1/2 hours depending on whether they’ve watched the video of their station in advance (see Flipped Classroom below).
In advance, I’ve organized all the materials needed for each station into bags. The photo below reflects the stations for our Gellin’ with Geometry Family Math Night. After thanking students for their very important role and going over some logistics (time to show up for the event, cleaning up their station, what to wear, etc.) I describe each station then organize students into those stations according to their interests. I hand out the bags and students practice the activities. As they are doing that, I rotate. If I can, I have one other adult with me so that checking in with student understanding of their station is easier.
Lately, I’ve been adding a What Do You Notice? poster to each of my events. The student(s)in charge of the Estimation Table will be handling the poster comments, as well. During the training they are busy answering the question.
It’s actually a pretty easy training. If I feel some students need additional practice with some of the advanced activities, I send them home with the materials so they can practice.
On event night, I give each student a Family Math Night visor to wear so they are easily recognized by the participants as the Station Facilitators. If you don’t have the visors, they can wear their school t-shirt or, at the very least, all wear the same color shirt. When the doors open and the participants flood in, they shine. It’s really their Family Math Night event. They do a fabulous job.
The Flipped Classroom and Training Students
I used the flipped classroom model yesterday when I trained a group of 16 fifth graders to be station facilitators at my next Math Medley Family Math Night event. It went amazingly well! Here’s what I did.
In advance of working with the students, I sent home the link to the Math Medley station videos. In the videos I describe all of the activities at each one of the stations and share tips on running the station. So by the end of the videos, the students should have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
When I arrived for the training, I asked them if the videos were helpful and if they had any questions. With the exception of one station that was a little confusing to them because they didn’t have access to the actual materials, they thought that by watching the videos they had a pretty good handle on what to do. It was the easiest training I’d ever done. I was able to quickly review the stations, have them try out a few of the activities, and, voila, we were done! The whole thing took less than 45 minutes…and a lot of that was working on one of the ‘Challenge’ problems from the Polygons Station which they were determined to figure out!
All in all, the flipped classroom model really worked in this case. Having the videos is a huge help to the person organizing the Family Math Night event. Simply give the station facilitator the link to their station and training is done! If fifth graders can do it, anyone can!
What a great group of volunteers! These are the station facilitators and family math night coordinator for one of our latest Math Medley Family Math Night events. By the way, notice how two of them are students…one middle school and the other high school.
I like how most of them are wearing the school spirit t-shirt. It’s a great way to show support of the school but it’s also a great way for participants to know who is the station facilitator. Visors are another idea, as well. And, of course, name tags.
Each one of these facilitators watched the short 5-minute clip of their station (links included with the kit) and in no time at all were prepared and ready to take on enthusiastic kids and their parents. As one facilitator put it, “Watching the video clip was brilliant!”
Here’s what Suzy, the family math night coordinator, had to say about her role, “I’m a mother of 3 that works part time and has a very busy life. I love event planning, but being a Family Math Night coordinator sounded overwhelming to me when I was first approached because I was worried about how much time I had to give for planning in order for this event to be a success. However, everything I needed was right in front of me and all the support I needed was available either online, via e-mail or a quick phone call. It was the easiest event I have ever coordinated and it was a huge success and I can’t stop thinking about the next one and how we can add to the evening. I am so grateful that I said yes! This needs to be happening in every school! It is exciting! It is fun! And best of all, kids are learning! WIN! WIN! WIN!”
Mission accomplished. Thanks, Suzy!
For any Family Math Night event to be successful you’re going to need to recruit volunteers. For a Nifty Numbers event, you’ll need volunteers to help run your stations. You may also decide to have someone take care of the photocopying.
A super easy way to recruit these volunteers is by using SignUp.com. I know this because I actually set up a mock family math night event using their service. It’s FREE. Plus I wanted to get a feel for the process.
I loved it! I started by watching the short instructional video on the site which I found to be clear and informational. From there I went ahead and created my sign-up sheet. The set-up was intuitive enough for me to have the whole thing done in just a few minutes. And what I really liked was that I could list specific jobs I needed volunteers for and then give a detailed description of what was required for those jobs. That would allow people to sign up for exactly what they were interested in.
But my favorite thing was receiving my Nifty Numbers Station Facilitator email reminder two days before my mock family math night reminder. I love the idea that I don’t have to run around tracking down my volunteers or spend my evenings calling them to remind them of their assignments. SignUp took care of all of that.
Having gone through the whole SignUp set-up and liking it, I knew it would be a good match for my Family Math Night kits. So I contacted them. The quick response I got back and the enthusiasm for the idea of linking VolunteerSpot and Family Math Night was exciting. They even wrote a blog and included several graphics specific to Nifty Numbers Family Math Night as a guide for the Family Math Night Coordinators. Check it out here.