Math & Movement Math Buddies

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By Suzy Koontz

You’ve probably heard of Each One Teach One, a classic teaching strategy where a student learns a new skill and then teaches that skill to another student. It’s a great way to engage all students in learning and to help solidify the new knowledge for the students. Math & Movement took this model up a level by creating a program called Math Buddies. In Math Buddies, the teacher teaches her classroom math skills using the Math & Movement mats. The teacher then takes his students and the Math & Movement materials and goes to another classroom, usually younger students/lower grade level students, and his students teach the other students the same information. Just like when they learned it, they use movement and fun to reinforce the material with the new students.

This method has the traditional academic outcomes of increased math skill. It also has the invaluable outcome of building the self-confidence of the student teachers as they realize they not only understand the math concepts but also can share them with other students in such a way that the other students ALSO gain the skills. When Math Buddies is used with the average students, it is always successful and satisfying. When the Math Buddies student teachers are students who are struggling to succeed, the results can be astounding.

A teacher in Northern New York State, Ronica Lawrence, has been using Math & Movement in a variety of ways. She has gone into teachers’ classroom to demonstrate and offer mini lessons. She works one on one and with small groups of students from her school with Math & Movement. They light up like a firefly whenever they see that they can work on one of the floor mats. Ronica also has shared with me how she has used the math buddy program.

Ronica has trained her students that have very low math skills to be leaders in classrooms of younger children. The students go into the classrooms and teach the younger students the math-movements and how to use the floor mats. At first, the classroom teachers were a little reluctant, but after the students came and did such a good job, they are happy to have them come again. When training the students to teach, Ronica served as the facilitator and allowed the students to be the teachers. Ronica has shared that the main benefit of the Math Buddy Program is that self-confidence has skyrocketed with her students.

Are you ready to try this fun and innovative way to bring higher level learning and self-confidence to your students? Read through some of the things the students, principal, and Ronica had to say about the Math & Movement experience at her school. If it sounds like something you want to try, let us know and we’ll help you get started! Email us at workshops@mathandmovement.com!

What the students think:

“The place value mat is my favorite. It’s so much fun because I get to jump and play with my friends. I love to play and jump because I love jumping!”

“My favorite math mat is the hopscotch because it’s fun doing it. I learned how to do my 3’s and 6’s. It’s so much fun because I like doing it with my step sister.”

“My favorite math mat is the factor fun mat; I learn factors and products. It’s so much fun because I taught it to little kids. It is fun!!”

“My favorite mat is the factor fun mat because I got to teach it to the third graders. They learned a lot from me!”

A few thoughts from Ronica Lawrence, 4th, 5th, & 6th Grade AIS Teacher, Heuvelton Central School (Heuvelton, NY) :

“We have a Family Fun Night mat kit at our school, which is stored in my building for three weeks between events. I have been encouraging teachers to use the mats, but some seem reluctant to take them on as part of their lessons. I have volunteered to go in and teach several mini lessons using the mats. Once teachers see how easy they are to use, then they start using the mats on their own. Now they really want to get our own set of mats!

“I taught my AIS students how to teach a peer lesson using the mats. We did a practice run first and then the 4th graders went into the 3rd grade class to teach the lesson. The 3rd graders were extremely engaged in the lesson and very focused on the student teachers. The AIS students do not normally participate in class and have low self esteem. After they taught a few lessons in different rooms, the older students now stop in daily to ask if they can be a teacher on the mats! Their confidence levels have gone through the roof! I also observed that they will ask higher level questions when peer teaching.

I love that kids are teaching kids and I am just the facilitator. Teachers are so excited to have former students come in as teachers. They get to see their growth emotionally, academically, and socially.

“Two struggling students invited the principal into our AIS room at the start of one day so they could teach her something. They used fantastic “math talk” to teach their principal and they challenged her to figure out the correct placement of several factor cards. They even asked if she could explain her reasoning!

“Here is what principal, Mrs. Shannon Jordan, wrote on the walkthrough:

I was invited by a student to Mrs. Lawrence’s AIS math class to learn about products and multiples using a mat from Math & Movement. Mrs. Lawrence guided the lesson by prompting questions as to why the numbers were placed in that square. Students were tasked with teaching me how to use the multiples and how they came up with their answers. They taught me to play as well. Her students were completely engaged in learning the multiplication facts using the Math & Movement mats. Mrs. Lawrence makes learning AIS math for struggling students a very engaging and positive experience. Love the Math & Movement learning!”

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