1. Steve Kahn
  2. Developing and studying the replication of Math Corps, an out-of-school-time mathematics program for urban youth
  3. http://mathcorps.org
  4. Wayne State University, Cleveland State University, Math Corps
  1. Christopher Nazelli
  2. Senior Lecturer
  3. Developing and studying the replication of Math Corps, an out-of-school-time mathematics program for urban youth
  4. http://mathcorps.org
  5. Wayne State University
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Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Christopher Nazelli

    Christopher Nazelli

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2017 | 05:56 p.m.

    Hi!  The Math Corps family is excited to share a bit about our program with you!  Our short video couldn't possibly cover all of the wonderful parts of the Math Corps, so please feel free to post any comments or questions (e.g. about the nuts and bolts of the Math Corps) you might have.  We are particularly interested in spreading the Math Corps curriculum and philosophy to other cities around the country, and around the world. 

     
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    Kristina Lux
  • Icon for: Sarah Haavind

    Sarah Haavind

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2017 | 12:40 p.m.

    Greetings Christopher and visitors to the Math Corps' video and discussion! This project is nothing short of thrilling on so many levels, congratulations! I think for me the most exciting news is over in your summary to the right, that next steps are to begin replication beyond Detroit- starting with Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Utica, NY. Wow!! 

    Christopher generously offers above to respond to comments or questions, specifically regarding the nuts and bolts of the Math Corps. The website both co-presenters link to is also informative. I look forward to learning what others notice or wonder as they view this video or explore the website. 

     
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    Christopher Nazelli
  • Icon for: Nancy Shapiro

    Nancy Shapiro

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2017 | 04:37 p.m.

    How awesome!  It looks like you're on the way to creating a tsunami of math-kids as each generation teaches the next--wow!  a nuts and bolts question:  how do you coordinate the work of the faculty and the public school teachers?  Is there special professional development for the math teachers who receive these kids in their classes?  do the teachers also teach in the summer programs?  What about the faculty at Wayne State and Cleveland State--are the math faculty or math educators or both? is this outreach work valued by your universities?

     
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    Christopher Nazelli
  • Icon for: Steve Kahn

    Steve Kahn

    Presenter
    May 15, 2017 | 09:54 p.m.

    Thanks  Sarah and Nancy for your kind words. With regard to our staff, while the main responsibility for delivering instruction  to our middle school students rests with our high school and college students, our senior staff members direct and oversee the instruction. Within the senior staff, there is no distinction made between our University faculty and our public school teachers. Almost without exception, they are all former Math Corps participants, who are all extremely well versed in the Math Corps' philosophy, practices and  unique curriculum. Unfortunately, because our curriculum is radically  different than the standard curriculum prescribed by our public schools, ( a necessary condition for its success), our kids return to classrooms after the summer that, for the most part, are part of the problem. With respect to our university faculty, they  all reside in WSU's Math Department.

     
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    Christopher Nazelli
  • Icon for: Karina Hensberry

    Karina Hensberry

    Researcher
    May 16, 2017 | 10:14 a.m.

    Do you have complementary work going on to support the classroom teachers (e.g., professional development), so that they can learn from your work or so that they can maybe connect to some of what you do?

     
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    Christopher Nazelli
  • Icon for: Breanne Litts

    Breanne Litts

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 12:14 p.m.

    I also totally dig the mentorship model here. Kids teaching kids. How did the first generation go? I'm wondering how you got this started and recruited the first round of kids to teach. 

     
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    Christopher Nazelli
    Karina Hensberry
  • Icon for: Kristina Lux

    Kristina Lux

    Researcher
    May 17, 2017 | 03:42 a.m.

    What an amazing program! I am curious to hear/see your lesson plans and how you are able to deliver math in such an intriguing way. I am a math teacher myself and often succumb to the chalk/talk method. I would love to hear how you engage students educationally and also emotionally - clearly you are teaching them more than just math. WOW - what an accomplishment!

  • Icon for: Nancy Shapiro

    Nancy Shapiro

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2017 | 08:51 a.m.

    Steve, thanks for your reply.  I see the problem...just curious...do you have an advisory board or external council who can help build bridges with local schools.  it seems a shame to lose that momentum you are building during the summer--and you are clearly a local resource that could and should be tapped by the schools for PD for the teachers--or at least it seems obvious to ME!

  • Icon for: Karina Hensberry

    Karina Hensberry

    Researcher
    May 16, 2017 | 10:12 a.m.

    How inspiring! This is obviously about more than just mathematics. I am curious about how the program is implemented: is it during school, after school, summer, etc? Is it remediation for struggling students or introductory math? How are students selected to participate? 

    Since you mentioned spreading this to other cities, how do you envision scaling up? What settings and partners would you need to implement this, say, here where I am (USF St. Pete, Florida)?

     
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    Christopher Nazelli
  • Icon for: Christopher Nazelli

    Christopher Nazelli

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 12:06 p.m.

    Thank you, Karina.

    I'm so glad that you noticed that the Math Corps is more than just a math program...in fact, some of the most important aspects of the program have nothing to do with math. 

    Right now, the focus of the program is the six-week summer camp that runs throughout July and August. This is the structure that we are currently replicating in other cities (Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Utica, NY). In the past, we have run a very successful Saturday program during the school year.  This was a fantastic way to stay in touch with our students during the school year and to begin the training of the next class of high school Teaching Assistants in an apprenticeship setting.

    The middle-school students go through an application process that includes a short essay.  There is no other requirement beyond going to a Detroit public or charter school.  At each site, there are 120 middle-school students and 60 high-school Teaching Assistants.  The TAs are typically former studetns, although there is always a handful of TAs that come to the camp without prior experience as a student.

    The camp is a mix of school mathematics (i.e. "the basics"), extension topics designed to capture the students' imaginations (e.g. fractal geometry, infinite series, topology, etc.), and math-based activities such as art based on modular-arithmetic and coding/robotics.  The TAs also study the basics as well as college-level courses (logic, proof writing, transfinite set theory).

    With the support of the NSF, we have been working on answering the question you've posed about the settings and structures of the new sites.  We'd love to connect in order to talk more your particular setting! 

     
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    Kristina Lux
  • Icon for: Breanne Litts

    Breanne Litts

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 12:11 p.m.

    Wow! What a great approach to teaching math. Obviously, something is working. I echo some of the other participants' queries about how MathCorps interfaces with the regular school year -- it seems like this is a common challenge with the camp-model. I'd love to hear folks' thoughts of how to bridge these two worlds more effectively, as it's something I've struggled to navigate in my own work. Additionally, I would also love to hear more about the nuts and bolts of the program. Karina has some great questions above. 

     
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    Christopher Nazelli
  • Icon for: Christopher Nazelli

    Christopher Nazelli

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 10:46 p.m.

    Thanks, Breanne.

    In the past, we have tried to stay connected with our students during the school year with a Saturday version of the camp (usually 20 Saturdays throughout the school year).  This was very successful in many different ways.  We have also experimented with having Math Corps instructors push into local middle schools and high schools, bringing the curriculum and philosophy of working with kids with us.  This has also showed promise--especially when there is a larger number of Math Corps faculty at one school.  We are still working on figuring out how best to work with and within schools in a way that allows us to stay true to our principles as well as respect the strengths and challenges of the particular school settings.

  • Icon for: Steve Kahn

    Steve Kahn

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 02:15 p.m.

    Karina, let me add a few things to what Chris has already talked about. Mathematically, our middle school kids are all over the place - by design. We select kids primarily on the basis of need ( e.g. a less than supportive family situation), and other factors like wanting  to be in the program, wanting to help others, etc.  After tentative selections are made, we adjust our decisions to obtain a balance with respect to gender and academic background (gpa and math grade). In terms of instruction, every student in the Math Corps gets "Broccoli and Ice Cream" - a class in the basics and one on advanced material. Because we have one high school  tutor for every two middle school kids, we can provide individualized instruction, meeting every student where they are. The overarching nature of the Math Corps as a place where kids care about kids, allows two things to happen: In  our basic classes, our advanced students understand their role is to support their classmates, and in the advanced classes , all of our students understand that their role is to explore, think and conjecture -  fearlessly. In terms of scaling up, in each of Cleveland, Philadelphia and Utica, there were good and qualified  people who found out about the Math Corps, contacted us,  and were prepared,  with our help, to build and operate a program. Of course, having NSF as a partner is invaluable. As Chris said above, we'd love to talk more, if you're interested.

     
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    Joni Falk
  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Co-Director of CSR at TERC
    May 16, 2017 | 05:47 p.m.

    This video is wonderful. I have watched several colleagues tear up when watching it. I am left wanting to know what is your "secret sauce" for kids to be so happy doing math for 6 weeks over the summer. It is clear that there is an emotional component, a component of care, that is being transmitted. How do you mentor your coaches to deliver that? I am imagining that when the kids first come they are skeptical about spending the summer in math class. How do you quickly turn that perception around? Is there sports to field trips built in to keep them engaged? Great video, great work, thanks!

     
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    Teresa Lara-Meloy
    Christopher Nazelli
  • Icon for: Christopher Nazelli

    Christopher Nazelli

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 10:36 p.m.

    Thanks, Joni.

    New members of the Math Corps are immersed in a culture of compassion, care, and kindness from the moment they walk into camp.  Our senior staff serve as models of this, to be sure; but the best ambassadors are the high-school TAs (mostly former students from the previous three summer camps).  All of the TAs debrief together after each camp day.  They share their collective successes and challenges, and they offer suggestions for helping each other to overcome those challenges.  These discussions are facilitated by senior staff members who look for and emphasize instances of kindness and care that have been capitalized on by the TAs or other staff.  College-student mentors (we call them College Instructors) and the senior staff debrief after that; and again, get the chance to share highlights and concerns.  All of the discussions serve to reinforce the philosophy among the staff members, and allow us to ensure that each of our students is being given all of the nourishment (mathematical and otherwise) that we can offer.

    It is funny that you mention the first day skepticism.  It is so common.  By the end of the first week, though, most are hooked.  We try to be as welcoming as possible and inject a great deal of humor into everything that we do.  But, above all, the students quickly realize that the Math Corps is a place filled with people that care about them and believe that they have greatness inside.  This year we had 39 out of last year's 40 seventh-grade students reapply to return to the camp.  That reminds me...I've got to call that student who didn't apply!

  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Co-Director of CSR at TERC
    May 17, 2017 | 08:44 a.m.

    Chris, thanks for the helpful reply. In the video it looks like the kids are attending a frontal lecture, but in your answers to others I get the sense that the work is often in small groups, project based, and two kids being mentored by a coach. Is this right? So I am interested in the pedagogical approach that keeps them engaged and coming back and how it differs from their classroom experience. And what is up with that hand waving? :)

     
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    Christopher Nazelli
  • Icon for: Christopher Nazelli

    Christopher Nazelli

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 01:44 p.m.

    Yes!  There is some traditional pedagogy, but the real magic occurs during the other periods that you've noticed in the other comments.  After a short (30 min) lecture delivered by a senior staff member to a class of 20 students (2 teams of ten) and their teaching assistants (TAs)...and you're right, each TA has two students in his/her care for the summer...the team goes into "Team Time".  Team Time is an hour long, and it is where the triad of TA and students go over the previous night's homework, review and extend the concepts from lecture, and revisit concepts that students struggled with on their pretests.  The team time is facilitated by a college student (we call them College Instructors, or CIs).  The TA-Student relationship is the key relationship, in my opinion.

    The hand waving :) is a set of signals that we use that allows students to express a variety of feelings or statements in a silent way...which makes them perfect in a classroom setting.  The one you see the most often, with both hands shaking/rotating back and forth (like you're changing two light bulbs very quickly), is the "agreement" symbol.   Another one that you see, and the most powerful in our opinion, is the signal for "support" ,"I'm with you", and/or "you can do this" .  It looks like you're winding up yarn in front of yourself.  When someone is struggling with mathematics, or sharing something very personal or difficult to express, you'll often see a sea of support signals.  I can tell you from personal experience that feels so good to know that others have your back, and are pulling for you as you try something that is difficult for you.

     
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    Joni Falk
  • Icon for: Steve Kahn

    Steve Kahn

    Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 07:34 p.m.

    Hi Joni, Kristina. As you both referred to the emotional component of the Math Corps ( our "secret sauce"), I've been thinking about our usual reply - actually mentioned  earlier by Karina -  that the Math Corps is about more than just math. I think that actually, the  essential nature of the Math Corps and the real source of its success, is not that it's a math program with more (all the mushy stuff) ); It's that it is genuinely  a work of  love - with more (the math).  Caring about your kids leads you to want to provide them with certain important benefits - like educational opportunities and specifically, high quality math instruction The math is the add-on! A blasphemous confession in the midst of a STEM event: A kid, growing up in Detroit, comes to the Math Corps, dreams of someday becoming an artist, or social worker, or writer, or elementary school teacher, and then goes on to actually do so - BINGO! That's beautiful. But  beyond simply defining the program and what it means to succeed, most importantly the Math Corps has developed a very powerful collection of  practices that bring  that love to life  - everyday. Example: On the first day of camp, we talk about how every child is "unique, beautiful and irreplaceable" and then proceed to introduce each of our kids, individually to the entire Camp. Each child stands, faces the audience and receives dignified applause - not for their good grades or athletic achievements, but simply for being who they are. As another example, their are 101 posted rules in the Math Corps - for the staff ( protect kids, notice kids, accept kids, thank kids,...).   There are only 3 rules for the kids: Be yourself, strive to realize your greatness and be safe. And humor is absolutely central to the program. Making a child smile - there's nothing better.

     
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    Joni Falk
  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Co-Director of CSR at TERC
    May 17, 2017 | 08:02 p.m.

    Thanks Steve and Christopher. The emotional connectivity and empowering each child with the message that "they count" sounds key. That is something to document, share, and promote in the classroom. One of my all time favorite papers written by Andrew Hargreaves is "Emotional Geographies of Teaching". https://ww2.faulkner.edu/admin/websites/jfarrel...

    Your project reminded me of this work! Thank you for sharing it in the Video Showcase!

     
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    Christopher Nazelli
  • Icon for: Steve Kahn

    Steve Kahn

    Presenter
    May 19, 2017 | 10:30 p.m.

    Thanks Joni for the reference. I'll check it out.

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    Maria DO

    May 21, 2017 | 11:06 p.m.

    I'm too excited to see that MATH CORPS is growing and doing so well! It helped me become who I am today!! Thanks to all of my mentors!! Thanks Dr Kahn, Chris, Mr Boehm. Miss you all!! Congrats on your success!!

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.