What would you think if you drove by the Clovis High School Freshman Academy (CHSFA) on a Thursday evening around 5:30 p.m. and viewed lively, jovial throngs of parents and students waiting in line to get into the school gym? Likely, a big game night, and it sort of was; just not the kind you might expect. It was Math Bingo evening at CHSFA.
This event was conceived by the Numeracy Team at CHSFA, one of the cross-curricular groups of teachers whose focus is to incorporate numeracy — “the ability to reason and apply numerical concepts” across the curriculum. As science teacher Nicole Hahn explained: “Since numeracy is our goal, we tried to think of an activity or event that involved every student and something every ninth grader could do.” They built a special math bingo game using algebraic equations, systems, and problems with exponentials.
The idea was that the event was purely voluntary, but each student who attended would get extra credit, and door prizes were either homework passes or various baked goods, provided by CHSFA Honor Society. Students did have to be accompanied by parents, with teachers thinking this a good opportunity for students to showcase their math skills. There was also pizza and water provided, courtesy of classroom snack sales.
Hahn continued, “People don't realize how much we use algebra in daily life; even figuring out percentages marked off in store sales; we build these little systems in our head to calculate.” Fellow team members, Lori Gammill (math), Chris Hanks (history), and Crystal Terrell (English), with assistance from Dawn Coleman, Gammill's student teacher, all chimed in with additional information about the event. “We expected somewhere around a hundred, knowing a number of students were interested in the extra credit.”
However, it turns out there were almost 500 in total! Between the 21 tables (each with eight chairs); the filled bleachers on both sides of the gym; people in chairs and on the floor — the place was packed! It was truly a sight to behold, but the most amazing of all was that everyone, students, parents, siblings were all having a wonderful time doing math problems. The atmosphere was electric, and a spirit of rivalry emerged as parents competed with their students. I heard over and over again comments to the effect that many parents had no idea how good their child's math skills were; not to mention, many students were surprised by their parents' skills, rusty at first.
There was laughter and camaraderie, and it was so incredibly engaging, I had to grab a piece of paper to try out a couple of equations. Sadly, I was hopeless at first; fortunately, one of the parents, Jennifer Torres, who happens to be one of our kindergarten teachers at Parkview, gave me a quick math lesson. Who would have thought math could be so much fun?
CHSFA teachers and administrators were thrilled with the turnout, and I wouldn't be surprised if they had requests to have another such evening.
Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the instructional technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at