Math 4 moms and dads



Nicole Lanford, newly in charge of covering Education for the News-Gazette, reports on an event tonight at Central. I would like to take you on a little journey that goes just a tad deeper. Slopes and parabolas are words, names we give to things.


Image provided by Wolfram Alpha

For starters, using the famous formula mx+b, here is a plot of various slopes (m) with various values for x:


If you just want one line (*yawn*):






Image provided by Wolfram Alpha

Want that parabola?

Or the 3d version:





But it is more than just creating pretty pictures (and I love the pictures!). What is especially exciting about what Lindsay Polarek and LaDonna Fletcher are doing goes way beyond the words we use – it is the way they actually teach. I have spoken with both in the past, and I love their approach to teaching math concepts to students; they are throwing in the kitchen sink by allowing students to collaborate, deliberate and explore as they grapple with formulas, functions and visualizing. They make a point of relating new ideas to familiar ideas, to help make the “learning curve” a bit more manageable – ideas are connected, one to another. Students also work together on small projects. In effect, they are already doing “21st Century Education” in their practices.


Math 4 Moms and Dads is a way for parents to see how these teachers teach, or as the article says of Ms. Polarek, an “opportunity to connect with educators”:

“So many people have negative impressions of math, and we want to show that this doesn’t have to be the case,” she added. “We want parents to experience math the way their students are experiencing it — as opposed to how they may have experienced it when they were in school.” (quoted from Lanford’s article)

It is not so much about remembering how to find a slope given a pair of points or what the quadratic equation looks like. I believe it is more so parents can see and “experience” how their children are learning. And from what I gather, there is a lot more fun involved than when I was a kid. 🙂


The event is advertised for Central families (parents and students). But I would encourage you to talk with Ms. Polarek and Ms. Fletcher regardless.


Obligatory plug for Wolfram: while Wolfram’s products are not the only thing out there, I tend to like them because 1) they are local, and 2) their products are powerful and really cool. I am big on visualization, so I like being able to “see” what the numbers are trying to tell me.



3 Responses to “Math 4 moms and dads”

  1. Rachel Says:

    Hi Charles,
    I’m wondering if you have any info on how the school of choice process works for people moving to the district? We are considering moving to Champaign in the next month or so and wondering what to expect. I called the Family Information Center and left a message with someone, but the woman on the phone said they wouldn’t be able to tell me up front which schools won’t be available… We are looking for a rental so might try to find a place within close distance to a school we prefer. I just thought I’d see if you had more info on this process? (I have a 1st and 4th grader). Feel free to email me.

    Thank You,

    • charlesdschultz Says:


      I responded to you in private email, but for everyone else’s benefit, the gist of my response is that it really depends on what qualities and/or characteristics you are looking for in a candidate school. The “choice process”, if you can call it that, for older students (older than Kindergarten) boils down to “if there is an empty seat, you go on a waiting list which will be figured out in the summer after the district figures out how many returning students they have.”

      I guess technically, since there should be more open spots for 4th grade, you could get your 4th grader in the school you want, and then use the sibling priority to pull in your 1st grader, but the timing might not work out quite that nicely. It’s worth a try. 🙂

  2. Karen Says:

    WRT math, wait until your kids are old enough for algebra, trig, etc., then revisit ‘collaborative’ learning 🙂 .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: