Penn GSE makes math meaningful for West Philly kids

Penn Today

Friday, August 19, 2022

Sheena Miles agreed to teach at this year’s six-week summer program, a collaboration between Penn GSE and the Netter Center, but initially requested any subject but math. Her reluctance turned into enthusiasm after a Zoom call with Joy Anderson Davis, of Penn GSE’s Responsive Math Teaching project....

Launched with a grant from the William Penn Foundation, the RMT project is currently funded by the National Science Foundation. The “responsive” aspect has to do with kids engaging in the work, rather than passively completing it. It’s about conversation, both with the group and with a partner, and this format challenges the idea that math is based on memorizing multiplication sheets and struggling through equations at your desk. Partner work grounds the lessons in socialization and physical engagement, as opposed to isolation and abstraction. This makes math come to life through dialogue, teamwork, and joint problem-solving.

This August, the RMT project ran math festivals at the Penn Alexander School and Hamilton Elementary, serving kids grades 2-8 and their parents.

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