This is a guest post by Vincent Marino, a math teacher at the Pollard Middle School in Needham, MA. Girls’ Angle has run 4 Math Collaborations there for seventh and eighth graders. For more information on Math Collaborations, please visit our website.
Thank you so much to Ken for allowing me to contribute a guest blog! I am a middle school math teacher at the Pollard Middle School in Needham. I have had the extreme pleasure of having Ken come to Pollard for the past four years to host a Math Collaboration. The events have been thoroughly amazing. From a teacher’s perspective, there is nothing I enjoy more than seeing students working tirelessly and collaboratively towards a common goal. The puzzles and problems that Ken puts together are the perfect balance of stretching students’ thinking while also making them attainable, and his gentle manner of prodding students without guiding them is something that I try to emulate on a daily basis in my own classroom. I cannot do justice to how exceptional these events are, so I asked two students who participated in the latest Collaboration to write their thoughts on the event. Here is what they wrote.
“Recently we participated in the math collaboration treasure hunt hosted by Girls’ Angle. This event was after school on an early release day, and beforehand it didn’t seem like the best way to spend our time out of school. We were surprised by the complexity of the puzzles and impressed at how fast we solved it. It was a change to not be given detailed instructions or told exactly what to do. Instead we had to figure out how to be organized and efficient, without relying on adults. At first everything was chaotic and nobody knew exactly what to do. But then we established a system with small groups working on each problem, and everybody helping those who needed it. This activity taught us to work together and help others to achieve a common goal. In the end, we were only able to solve the puzzle because every single person contributed in some way. We had to be independent, work together, use leadership skills, be organized and listen to everybody’s ideas in order to complete the treasure hunt and receive the prize. This collaboration was an amazing learning experience and built leadership and teamwork skills, but more importantly a fun way to spend an afternoon.”