Third graders who were in the Gadgets Gallery at Springhill Learning Center were absorbed in inches and centimeters, showing the results that happen when math camp focuses kids on problem solving, not just answers.

Still elsewhere in the building, first graders measured the length of paper chain caterpillars they made.

Math Camp Focuses Kids on Problem Solving, Not Just Answers

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It would appear that the learning in both rooms and throughout the entire camp program of Mansfield City Schools was about measurement.  But there is more to this camp than just getting the right answers.

“We have 170 students registered for math camp. That’s 100 more than were registered last year,” said Meg Strong, a district teacher leader. “We are using Algebra Project principles in our teaching this week. We’re asking students, ‘How did you figure that out? What was your thinking?’”

It is important for students to develop critical thinking skills and be able to explain how they approach and solve a problem, Strong said.

Children in kindergarten through third grade are at Springmill from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students in grades four and five are on the Ohio State University at Mansfield campus during the same hours.

Math Camp Focuses Kids on Problem Solving, Not Just Answers

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Mansfield City Schools has been involved with The Algebra Project, a national nonprofit math initiative, for several years. OSU-Mansfield professors Lee McEwan and Terri Bucci, who have led previous professional development workshops for district teachers, are active in math camp.

About 30 district teachers are participating this week, some getting their first look at how Algebra Project techniques are implemented.

“A group of teachers created the lessons together,” Strong said. “While one teacher presents a lesson, others observe. There are pre-class and post-class conferences and suggestions are made for changes and improvements.

“Student learning is the focus of all of the work. Teachers new to these concepts will take what they have learned into their classrooms this fall.”

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