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Mastering math facts

Students, parents gather for workshop at Hagerstown's Emma K. Doub Elementary School

Students, parents gather for workshop at Hagerstown's Emma K. Doub Elementary School

September 29, 2008|By JANET HEIM

Math, technology and more than 4,000 calories of candy drew close to 65 students and parents to a "Mastering the Math Facts" evening workshop at Emma K. Doub School for Integrated Arts and Technology recently.

Stacy Kauffman, the school's student achievement specialist, said it was the first attempt at this type of workshop and she was pleased with the turnout. The plan is to offer something for students and their parents once a month.

After a brief introduction in the gym, students were invited to guess how many calories were in a big bag of candy. The student with the closest guess won the candy.

Then the participants were urged to visit the different math stations throughout the school -- from using Palm Pilots to exploring math Web sites to playing card and dice games -- all to reinforce math facts.

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"It's just that parents feel comfortable supporting learning at home. It gives them a common interest and common focus," said Elizabeth Donohoe, principal at Emma K. Doub.

Leslie Morgan used a Palm Pilot alongside her daughter, Taylor Morgan, and marveled at the technology.

"It is amazing. They didn't have it when I was in school. She is so eager to learn and the new technology helps her open up and try harder," Leslie Morgan said.

Palm Pilots contain programs that allow students to practice basic math skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Among other features, students can work with prime numbers and greatest common factors, as well as allow students to explain in math terminology how they reached an answer, said fifth-grade teacher Kathy Dell.

Fifth-grader Jenna Becker played "Add Your Way to a Million" on a math Web site, with her mother's encouragement.

"We're trying to get that million dollars," said Linda Becker, who cheered when Jenna reached the $1 million mark with correct math answers.

Krystal Tasker played the Wheel Game, a dice game, with her father, Walter Raleigh.

"I was struggling with division and multiplication. When I play this, it helps me," Krystal said.

Raleigh was pleased they would be able to take copies of the game board with them so they could play at home.

"I like this game. Anything to help out at home," he said.

Next month, a pajama party will focus on language arts, providing parents with information on how to ask questions to encourage higher-level thinking skills, Donohoe said.

Some months, the students' artwork or PowerPoint presentations will be the highlight.

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