Have some Adventures with Mathematics this summer
Under the leadership and direction of Professor Char Beckmann, prospective teachers, inservice teachers, and faculty throughout Michigan have undertaken a major mathematics learning project that aims to address an annual challenge faced by K–12 students learning mathematics: summer vacation. GVSU students, alumni, and faculty have taken on a particularly important role in this project.
Every year, students and teachers alike face the reality that after nine months of actively doing mathematics, a three month window occurs during which the average student has few opportunities to deepen understanding or practice key skills. The Adventures with Mathematics activity books are designed to enable students at all levels to engage in mathematics with family members or in a self-directed setting, to reinforce and promote key concepts in their grade-level development, and to keep existing skills sharp. There are even very helpful answer keys that provide hints and suggestions that allow students to work on their own or to gain help from parents or siblings.
The completed book series will soon comprise 13 grade-level books, one for each summer following grades K–11, as well as a probability and statistics activity book that addresses a broader grade range. Each text offers students at least 20 different activities and 60 or more short problems. Moreover, each book is clearly aligned with the Common Core State Standards and Michigan’s Grade Level or High School Content Expectations. Six of the thirteen books are currently in print and available for sale; the remaining seven have full manuscripts written and are now undergoing final editing. The books are available for purchase from the GVSU Mathematics Department for $10 each, or can be bought online from the MCTM store for $12.50 each. All proceeds benefit the MCTM Scholarship Endowment Fund. Seehttp://www.mictm.org/index.php/shop and click on the link to Publications for more details regarding the individual books; the first 10 pages of each of the books can be viewed online free of charge.
With each of the 13 books being about 75 pages long and comprised primarily of original activities and problems, the enormous scope of this project is immediately apparent. Professor Beckmann has organized and worked with students and faculty from multiple universities in Michigan, including EMU, MSU, WMU, Siena Heights, UM-Dearborn, CMU, and Grand Valley; a faculty member from Kent State University in Ohio is also involved. Inservice teachers have also contributed activities and short problems, and helped with editing.
From Grand Valley in particular, there has been an amazing level of participation. More than 30 different undergraduate students have been involved in writing at least one published activity in the series, and current students Chris Bruggema, Carlee Hollenbeck, Alicia Meyers, and Libby Whaley have served as editors or co-editors for at least one of the books currently in print. In addition, alumni Josh Brandsen, Reka Dusseljee, Renee Fay, Tressa Newell, and Sam Otten have also written activities, and alumna Tiffany Stob has been both a writer and editor. GVSU mathematics faculty Karen Novotny, Esther Billings, John Golden, Marge Friar, Will Dickinson, and Ed Aboufadel have also contributed to the project by writing activities and/or doing editorial work.
Besides the obvious contributions that this collection of books will make to the learning experiences of K–12 students in Michigan, the project has also formed an outstanding professional development opportunity for current GVSU students who aspire to become teachers. Through writing and assessing curricular materials, these students have written activities or short problems that will engage students in their own classrooms and have already gained valuable experience.
In addition to the contributions of numerous student and faculty volunteers, the university at large has been very supportive of this project. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Education and their respective deans, the Department of Mathematics, and the Provost have provided monetary and time support, encouragement and resources.
Be sure to check out and take advantage of these fantastic resources for your students or your own children.