Questions & Answers:
- What is a Math Festival?
- How was the Math Festival Developed?
- Is there more than one Math Festival?
- Are the California Common Core Standards addressed in the Math Festivals?
- Which Math Festival Topic is best for our students?
- How large a school can you accommodate in one day? Two days?
- Why is it best for mixed grade levels to attend each Math Festival session?
- What kind of space is required to hold a Festival for students and families?
- How will our school day be impacted?
- Why must a certificated staff from my school be released to assist during your student Math Festival?
- How have schools been funding the event?
- Must teachers teach certain concepts prior to visiting the Festival?
- Who provides the Festival materials? What does a school need to provide?
- Who will conduct our Math Festival?
- Will the Math Festival presenter need to be fingerprinted by our district?
- What does a typical Math Festival schedule look like?
- What is the Family Math Festival?
- What is the Math Festival After School Teacher Workshop?
- Can we host a Family Math Festival without the daytime student Math Festival?
- Can you conduct a Festival on a minimum day?
- What Math Festival materials do we get to keep?
- How can we justify the cost of a Math Festival Program?
- Is the cost of hosting a Math Festival less for smaller schools?
- Can we purchase only the Math Festival Materials if we don’t host a Math Festival?
- What are the related travel costs?
- What is the billing process for contracting for a Math Festival?
- Why do we need parent volunteers to help students?
- Is the Math Festival suitable for Middle School students?
- Is the Festival appropriate for non-English speaking students?
- Are the materials translated for use by non-English speaking parents at the Parent/Student Festival?
What is a Math Festival?
Our Math Festivals are special events that demonstrate to students the importance of Mathematics, a subject EVERYONE can enjoy, marvel at, and have success.
In our regular school Math Festival for up to 900 K–8 students, we set up of 12 to 18 math activity stations. Several classes of students of different grades and all ability levels visit the Math Festival together for a 35 to 40 minute session where they actively participate in different hands-on mathematics while practicing their math skills at the same time. Each Math Festival station is hands-on; there's everything from blocks and beans to balances that students use in solving problems. Each Math Festival activity station is different, and each touches upon a different key mathematics concept. For example, students make function patterns out of cubes at one station, while at another they solve simultaneous equations with beans in the Algebra Math Festival.
Students working with a partner choose a station to visit and work at that activity as long as they wish, working harder and harder problems. When they are ready, they move to another station and do a completely different activity. Each station has challenging tasks of different levels of difficulty, some very easy for young primary students, and some hard enough to challenge adults!
The students walk away from their time at the Math Festival thinking that math is fun, interesting, AND that they CAN DO IT. Their teachers can build on that enthusiasm by using the Math Festival Curriculum activities with students after the Festival in their own classrooms. A Math Festival does an excellent job of getting students excited about this very important subject, and helps them see the value of mathematics in their lives.
How was the Math Festival developed?
The Math Festival Program sprang from an Eisenhower federally funded project at the University of California. Paul Giganti, the Math Festival Program Coordinator, was the Director of that project. The project was designed to bring math to the forefront in the minds of students, teachers, and families in urban and rural schools. In the last fifteen years we have hosted over 950 Math Festivals all over California and beyond—as far north as Alaska in Native American villages and as far south as urban schools in San Diego, all with equal success. Because the three Math Festival Programs have been fully developed, tested, and refined over time and in all types of schools, all Math Festival stations are composed of highly successful math activities using child tested materials and can be easily replicated in your classrooms. Our detailed planning and logistical support for every Math Festival program guarantees a successful Festival program in ANY school—public or private, large or small—for any grades K through 8. Math Festivals can host a successful event in your school.
Is there more than one Math Festival?
Yes. Currently, we offer three Math Festival programs: Algebra, Geometry, and Number. Each of the three Festivals consists of 12 to 18 Festival stations that are completely different from the other Festivals. Each Math Festival focuses on the K-8 concepts and Common Core Standards from that topic of mathematics. A school could host each of the three Math Festivals, one at a time, and each will be a different math experience for students. Your school chooses the Math Festival topic of your choice, and that Festival topic is the focus for your Math Festival day. However, many schools have hosted ALL THREE Math Festivals at their school in the same or consecutive years.
Are the California Common Core Standards addressed in the Math Festivals?
Each of the three Math Festivals was developed under a state and federal grant. Therefore, great attention was paid to addressing the California Common Core Mathematics Standards in three broad topics: Algebra, Geometry, and Number. Activities were chosen based upon how many different Standards could be addressed in a Math Festival day. While it’s impossible to address all the K-8th grade Standards in one day, many are addressed in each Math Festival. Correlations of the Math Festival activities to the CACCSSM are made available to each school that hosts a Math Festival, and upon request.
Take a look at the activities in the three Math Festival topic and each activity's correlations to the California Common Core Mathematics Standards:
Which Math Festival Topic is best for our students?
Each of the Math Festivals has its own appeal to meet the needs of specific schools. All three Festivals, Algebra, Geometry, and Number, are very hands-on and interactive, and all three have different stations with almost no overlap.
Schools choose the Algebra Festival if they feel they want to focus on this now all-important subject. It can help teachers, parents, and students see that algebra is many things, perhaps much more than they remember from high school, and not a subject to be feared and avoided. And yet at the same time, the Algebra Math Festival demonstrates the EVERYONE can have success in algebra.
Schools often choose Geometry because they feel that the subject has gotten decreased attention in their math curriculum. Geometry also has the broadest appeal to students of all grades, Kindergarten through 8th. It is a highly interactive Festival with lots of geometric manipulatives for the students to explore, problems to solve, and spatial skills to practice.
Schools choose Number when they want to give their students a bit of a boost in their number sense. This Math Festival gives students an opportunity to see number in a different and more positive light than it is often portrayed in the textbook or on tests. The Number stations, including several measurement activities, give students a view of number and number sense through the stimulating use of hands-on materials and problem solving. The Number Festival will reinforce students’ classroom and textbook experience!
How large a school can you accommodate in one day?
We can accommodate schools with TK–8 student populations as large as 1200 in a normal six-hour school day. However, the number of students we can accommodate in your Math Festival program is dependent on your facility and bell schedule. Normally a maximum of six Math Festival sessions will be scheduled during your school day and, with a large enough facility and enough table space, we can accommodate a maximum of 150 students at each Math Festival session. For schools with larger student populations, and under certain circumstances we can accommodate up to 1200 students, but a surcharge of $100 per 100 students over 900 is added to the cost. We are happy to advise you on the number of students your facility can handle per Math Festival session.
To meet the needs of very large schools with student populations greater than 1200 students or schools with facilities that won't fit that many, we can host a two-day Math Festival on consecutive days. A two-day Math Festival in the one location costs less than twice the normal Math Festival cost. However, in order to get this reduced two-day Math Festival rate, the Math Festival materials MUST remain set up from the first day through the second day. There is an additional cost if the Math Festival materials must be taken down and set up a second time.
Why is it best for mixed grade levels to attend each Math Festival session?
The Math Festival was designed as a truly ungraded activity. It is designed with multiple-level tasks around the same math activity. Individual tasks have a simple coding system so students can easily choose the activity at ANY Math Festival table that is perfect for their ability. At every table there are a few tasks easy enough for the youngest students, a few harder tasks appropriate for the brightest upper-grade students, and a few tasks each for all the students in between.
When a classes from only a single grade level attend a session, the students tend to seek tasks with the same level of difficulty, and since there are just a few tasks at any one level, there tends to be a lot more competition for students to find that perfect activity for their level. For example, when all the kindergarteners come to the Math Festival at the same time, they naturally vie for the one or two easiest activities at a table, leaving all the higher level, harder tasks alone.
In our graded school system, it’s hard for teachers to understand that an activity can serve multiple grade levels at one time, but that is exactly what the Math Festival does best. It is wonderful to see kindergartners working right next to 5th graders, each finding tasks that are just right for their ability. Mixing primary with upper grades during sessions has the added advantage that the younger students tend mellow out the upper graders students while the primary students benefit in that the upper graders are more likely to give the youngsters next to them a bit of assistance.
What kind of space is required to host a student and/or Family Mathematics Festival?
A Math Festival is held in a school gym, multiuse room, or school cafeteria. Libraries and classrooms are too small to house a Math Festival, and it cannot be held outside. The Math Festival requires the exclusive use of this whole facility for the entire day, including before school, lunchtime, after school, and into the evening (if your school also hosts a Family Mathematics Festival that same evening). Nothing else can happen as usual in the cafeteria (or gym) that day—the Festival stations must remain up all day since they can’t be easily or quickly taken down and set up again.
If we are using your school cafeteria on your Math Festival day, students must have lunch in a different location that day. However we can accommodate an isle through the cafeteria where students enter and exit to be served lunch at their regular time. If your school has a breakfast program, the Math Festival can officially begin AFTER your students finish breakfast and a quick cleanup. Your Math Festival presenter can usually set up the Festival’s materials prior to or during breakfast, and be ready for the first student Math Festival session soon after. Your first Math Festival session need not start at the very beginning of your school day.
If your cafeteria has approximately 12 to 16 double tables (as most cafeterias have), and sufficient room for students to move about, then accommodating 100 to 150 students per session in 6 sessions throughout the day is usually no problem. Each double fold-down table will accommodate ONE Math Festival station.
If your Math Festival will be help in a gym or multi-use room, then 6 foot by 4 foot folding tables can be used. TWO 6 foot by 4 foot folding tables placed end to end provide sufficient space for ONE Math Festival station and up to 12 students. For example, to have twelve Math Festival stations you would need twenty-four (24) 6 foot by 4 foot folding tables.
How will our school day be impacted?
The students in your school will visit the Math Festival in groups of 80 to 150 per session, several classes at a time. Up to six Math Festival sessions can be scheduled in a regular school day. This is how a Math Festival can accommodate up to 900 students in one day. Students are only out of class for approximately 50 to 60 minutes for their own session, so their whole school day is not impacted. Since teachers must attend along with their students for their scheduled Math Festival session, there is no need for teachers to be released for the day (see below). Teachers must organize their students in working pairs BEFORE coming to the Festival, show up for their session on time, and MUST attend their whole session along with their students. Other than that, teachers have no other obligations and there is no special preparation the teachers must do before the Math Festival day.
Why must a certificated staff from my school be released from his or her duties to assist during your student Math Festival?
California Education Code Section 45125.1 requires that schools provide complete supervision by one of their certificated staff during a student Math Festival because Festival presenters are not district employees, but visitors in your school. The Education Code requires this certificated person be in the Festival room at all times while students are attending the Math Festival. ONE teacher-leader must be released from their duties for this purpose. It is the school’s responsibility to fund that teacher-leader’s release since he or she must work alongside the Math Festival presenter from the early morning until the end of the school day. Though your Math Festival presenter does most of the work, this teacher’s release for the day is VERY important to the success of a Festival because he or she knows your teachers and the daily operation of your site. It is not advisable that the released person be the principal or vice principal as they are frequently pulled away on pressing school business. Together, along with parent volunteers, your released teacher and the Math Festival presenter will completely run your Math Festival program.
How have schools been funding the event?
Schools that have Title I funding can use part of their funds earmarked for math staff development and parent outreach. You can include a Mathematics Festival Program in your Single School Plan or Title I Improvement Plan for the year. Since it’s an all school event, MANY schools are now turning to their PTAs, PTOs, or Site Councils for funding—this is a great parent supported event for your whole school. Still other schools have gotten corporate partners to fund their Math Festival. Math Festivals for students, teachers, and families are a nice concise, yet highly visible way for local business and industry to invest in a school.
Must teachers teach certain concepts prior to visiting the Math Festival?
After a brief orientation, each student partner pair work at station tables of their choice. All Math Festival stations are self-explanatory and multi-graded. Parent volunteers at each station activity answer questions and give assistance when needed. The tasks at any given table range from Kindergarten through 8th grade in difficulty. It is not necessary that teachers teach certain concepts before a student is able to work effectively at any Math Festival station in the room. The Math Festival station activities and problems represent wonderful opportunities for students to practice the skills and concepts they have learned in class.
Who provides the Festival materials? What does a school need to provide?
We provide EVERYTHING for a successful Math Festival, even the expendable materials. Watch the slide show and/or movie on the Math Festival main page of the web site; we bring everything you see. We bring enough of everything based upon the number of students (and/or parents) scheduled to attend your Math Festival events.
Who will conduct our Math Festival?
One or two presenters will conduct your Math Festival events for the day. All of the presenters for the Math Festival programs are experienced California credentialed classroom teachers. Besides many years teaching experience in classrooms and diverse communities, ALL the presenters have a variety of experience working with multi-age students, teachers of all grades, parents, guardians, and families. On the appointed day, your Math Festival presenter(s) will arrive early in the morning for setup, and lead the Festival sessions all day long. If your school has contracted for the optional Family Math Festival and/or after school Math Festival teacher workshop, this same presenter has been trained to conduct those events as well. We’re sure you, your administration, teachers, students, and families will enjoy working with our wonderful Math Festival presenters; they are friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. Meet our presenters...
Will the Math Festival presenter need to be fingerprinted by our district?
Very occasionally we are asked by districts to have our Math Festival presenter fingerprinted specifically for the one-day visit to your school. This isn’t possible or feasible, and is not required by the law. Therefore, as a policy, we do not comply with requests for fingerprinting. The law governing fingerprinting of school employees, Education Code Section 45125.1, requires that employees of entities providing services to school districts who will come in contact with students, must be fingerprinted by the California Department of Justice for a criminal records check, UNLESS your DISTRICT determines that the CONTRACTOR and CONTRACTOR’s staff will have limited contact with pupils. In making this determination, your DISTRICT must consider the totality of the circumstances, including factors such as the length of time our presenters will be on school grounds, whether pupils will be in proximity with the site where our personnel will be working, and whether they will be alone or with other district employees.
Under the conditions of your student Math Festival, presenters will have limited contact with pupils and ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE FINGERPRINTING REQUIREMENTS OF EDUCATION CODE SECTION 45125.1 OR 45125.2. we expressly acknowledges the following conditions will apply to any work performed by personnel on your school site:
- Math Festival's representative will check in with the school office each day immediately upon arriving at the school site;
- She will inform school office staff of her proposed activities and location at the school site;
- Once at the designated location, she will not change locations without contacting the school office;
- She will be under the direct supervision of a district employee (a Teacher-Leader) released for the entire day for this purpose;
- She will not use student rest room facilities unless told to do so by a school employee; and
- If she finds herself alone with a student, she will immediately contact the school office and request that a member of the school staff be assigned to the work location.
ALL Math Festival Presenters are current or former certificated public school teachers in California, and as such, have been fingerprinted by their own district and county office of education. Their fingerprints ARE on file at the CA Department of Justice.
What does a typical Math Festival schedule look like?
Here is a SAMPLE Math Festival schedule (yours may start and end at different times, and have a different number of sessions):
7:30 – 9:00
9:00 – 9:35
9:45 – 10:20
10:30 – 11:05
11:15 – 11:50
12:00 – 1:00
1:00 – 1:35
1:45 – 2:20
|Teacher After-School Workshop (if scheduled)|
30 min minimum
2:50 – 4:10
45 min minimum
|Family Mathematics Festival (if scheduled)|
6:00 – 7:00
What is a Family Math Festival?
Since students who have attended the Math Festival that same day tend to pull their families to the Family Mathematics Festival that evening, many schools have have well attended Family Mathematics Festivals. Families tour the same Math Festival stations the students did during the day. Their students become their tour guides and teachers, so there is no need for parent or teacher volunteers to assist at the Family Mathematics Festival stations. It is wonderful to watch mothers, fathers, and guardians doing math with their children—and having fun at the same time. Schools may or may not require their teachers to attend, but teachers who do will not be given any official duties and are free to roam the Math Festival talking to parents and students.
The Family Math Festival usually runs from 6 or 6:30 to 7:30 or 8:00 (an hour is usually about right if no additional program is scheduled—raffle, talk by principal or speaker, etc.). 90 minutes is the MAXIMUM length of the Family Mathematics Festival. The Family Mathematics Festival the same-day as your student Math Festival is optional for an additional $700.
Depending on your facility, an evening Family Math Festival can accommodate 200+ family members and students. If you wish, your Math Festival presenter will be happy to make a few comments to families about the importance of mathematics for their children, and how they can support their student’s learning of this critical subject. We also offer the booklet, Math at Home, A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children Learn Mathematics, to the families that attend your Family Mathematics Festival. Math at Home booklets are available in English and/or Spanish.
What is the Math Festival After-school Teacher Workshop?
We also offer an inservice professional development program for teachers on how to integrate the Math Festival activities into K-8 classrooms. The emphasis of this workshop is extending the experience of the Festival throughout the year, and the focus is on teachers using the Standards based Math Festival curriculum materials as stations, enrichment, or as structured lessons. This workshop adds a ninety minute to two-hour after school professional development program for your staff following the student Festival and preceding the evening Family Math Festival. This teacher workshop completes a coordinated school community Math Festival package. Together with our student and family Math Festival programs, with this inservice your school can have Math Festival Programs that benefit students, teachers, and families, all in the same day. This Math Festival Professional Development program is optional for an additional $800.
Please note: We discourage inviting teachers from other schools to participate in the workshop. Permission to use the Math Festival activity files and printed materials is granted only to the one school that hosts a Math Festival, so teachers from other schools will not have access to the activities they learn about during the workshop. Sharing Math Festival files or printed copies with another school or with teachers from another school would be a violation of our copyright.
Can we host a Family Mathematics Festival without the daytime student Math Festival?
Although the Family Mathematics Festival makes a perfect event to follow your student Math Festival, due to popular demand, we offer stand-alone Family Mathematics Festival events on evenings and weekends. A stand-alone Family Mathematics Festival is more expensive to offer than a Family Math Festival that follows a student Math Festival on the same day because of the amount of travel and the work involved in setting up the single event are the same as for a student Math Festival. Hosting only a Parent Festival costs $1500 plus related travel expenses. A stand-alone Family Mathematics Festival can last 1.5 hours MAXIMUM; Family Mathematics Festivals longer than 1.5 hours are available at additional cost.
Whenever possible, we encourage schools to offer the student Festival during the day and a parent/student Festival that evening. The benefit of hosting a daytime student Math Festival for your whole student body followed by an evening Family Mathematics Festival is that the students who pass through the Festival that day tend to urge (some might say “drag”) their parents to the evening Festival. Some schools have had their highest parent attendance at a non-student performance event because. However, we are happy to accommodate schools who only wish to host an evening or Saturday Family Mathematics Festival.
Can you conduct a Festival on a minimum day?
Depending on the size of your student population, it MIGHT be possible to conduct a Festival on a minimum day. Each session lasts 45 to 50 minutes, including clean-up and passing time between sessions. The Math Festival can accommodate a maximum of 150 students per session (if your facility is large enough). Normally we conduct 5 or 6 of these sessions in one day in order to allow every student to visit the Festival. You could “do the math” using your school’s schedule and number of students to see if it will work on a minimum day.
What Math Festival materials do we get to keep?
Each school that hosts a Festival gets invited to "share" a Dropbox folder with a downloadable PDF file of all the activities from the topic of their Math Festival. The Dropbox file includes ALL the Math Festival station direction posters for each activity, ALL the problem solving tasks from each Math Festival station; Spanish translations of the instructions; lists of manipulatives and materials needed for each station; correlations of each activity to the CACCSSM, and answers to the stations’ tasks where appropriate. We encourage your teachers to use these activities in their own classrooms to help your school extend the learning and excitement of your Math Festival all year long!
How can we justify the cost of a Math Festival Program?
Math Festival Programs are not funded or subsidized by any company or government agency. As a non-profit organization, Math Festivals do not have adequate funding to offer this program to schools below our costs. We hope someday that a corporate sponsor might be found to help us offer Math Festivals to schools at reduced costs. At the present time, we must offer the Math Festival Program to schools on a fee-for-service basis so that we can recover its costs and continue to offer this outreach program to schools all over California.
While $2000 for the full day’s student Math Festival may sound expensive, consider that in the space of a day every student in your school, from Kindergarten through 8th grade (up to 900 students), can pass through and experience a Math Festival. At a cost per student, it compares quite reasonably to brief student assemblies and many programs that only work with one class or a specific grade within the school.
In addition, we offer the optional evening Family Mathematics Festival at a reduced rate of only $700 as a way to encourage schools to involve parents, guardians, and families to experience this important subject alongside their children. (The reduced rate is for a Family Mathematics Festival program held the SAME EVENING as a school’s student Math Festival). If your school also chooses to hold the after school Math Festival inservice workshop for teachers, in a single day your school can host THREE Family Mathematics Festival events that will have your students, teachers, and families talking about MATH for weeks!
Is the cost of hosting a Math Festival less for smaller schools?
Yes! If your school has 400 or fewer students, and your facility and tables can accommodate all of them with a maximum of FOUR, 40 minute student Math Festival sessions, we offer a Small-School Math Festival rate of $1500 plus travel expenses.
For schools with 200 or fewer students we also offer a Very Small-School Student Math Festival & Family Math Festival combination for $1500 plus travel expenses. This two event Math Festival includes TWO 40 minute AFTERNOON student sessions and a ONE hour Family Math Festival on the same date.
Please note: Small-School Math Festivals require your facility be large enough to host your number of students in the maximum number of sessions allowed, in addition to 10 to 12 of the typical double cafeteria tables (each double-table is sufficient space for ONE Math Festival activity). Travel-related expenses and/or fees for additional programs are not reduced for smaller schools. Contact us if you're unsure whether your facility and number of tables are sufficient.
Can we purchase only the Math Festival Materials if we don’t host a Math Festival?
Currently the Math Festival printed curriculum materials are available only to schools that host a Math Festival Program. Math Festivals are putting all its efforts into offering the student and parent Math Festival programs throughout California, but we hope to make these materials available some day as publications for sale.
What are the related travel costs?
Travel costs related to hosting a Math Festival at your school include auto mileage billed at the federal mileage rate, a daily meal allowance, and hotel accommodations for your Math Festival presenter(s) if the distance warrants. Because of the large amount of materials associated with hosting a Math Festival, we must drive, not fly, to your school. However, we are fortunate to have Math Festival presenters located in different parts of the state to reduce travel expenses for schools. Hotel accommodations are only required if your presenter must drive the night before to be there early in the a.m. for setup, and/or stay over a second night if your school hosts an evening Family Mathematics Festival and it’s too late to drive home. The travel related expenses of hosting a Math Festival will depend on the individual circumstances of travel time and distance to your site, but can be estimated quite closely for your purchase order.
If more than one Math Festival can be arranged on consecutive days with a nearby school(s), the schools can share the travel costs. (This must be arranged in advance with confirmation of dates by ALL schools involved.) When you tell us the street address of your school, and which Math Festival programs you wish to host (student Math Festival, Family Mathematics Festival, and/or after school Math Festival teacher workshop), we will email you a detailed cost estimate for your Math Festival events upon request.
What is the billing process for contracting for a Math Festival?
After looking over the Math Festival information, if you would like to book a Math Festival date for your school, it’s best to begin by sending us an email with your first, second, and third choice of dates. We will then let you know which of those dates fit into our calendar. Upon confirmation of a date, we will provide you with an official invoice with all charges and travel expenses broken down. We ask that your school, district, or organization begin processing payment immediately upon confirmation of the Math Festival date for your school.
We prefer the purchase order process for payment but we also accept checks made out to the California Math Festival Program. Your purchase order or payment must be in the amount of the invoice and sent to us at least two weeks BEFORE the date of your Math Festival. If we don’t receive a purchase order or check from your school, district, or organization in advance of your Math Festival date, it may result in a cancellation.
For more information, questions, a cost estimate, or to book a Math Festival date for your school, please contact Paul Giganti, Jr., Director of the California Math Festival Program, at: email@example.com
Why do we need parent volunteers to help students?
A wonderful element of any Math Festival program is parent involvement. For your student Math Festival we ask you or your school or PTA/PTO to sign up parent volunteers in advance so they can assist the students at the Festival stations during the day. Parent volunteers DO NOT NEED TO BE MATH EXPERTS to help out; they can learn all they need to know in a brief orientation that morning, and by participating in the sessions. Your school will need 12 to 16 parents or other volunteers for each Math Festival student session though parents can volunteer to work in shifts. It’s ideal if your school can have one adult helping at each Math Festival station. We will provide your school with information, advice, and flyers in advance to use in the process of gathering parent volunteers. Speaking English is NOT required to help at your Math Festival; in fact, non-English speaking volunteers can help non-English speaking students quite nicely.
While all Math Festivals have been successful, those that have a parent/adult volunteer at each Math Festival station to assist students during each session have been the MOST successful! Having parents help at each Math Festival table not only makes for a better learning experience for students, it also provides a rich mathematics experience for the adult volunteers, and allows teachers to circulate freely and observe their students. Schools benefit greatly by reaching out to parents and bringing them into the school, and a Math Festival is a great way to encourage parents to get involved in an enjoyable and non-threatening all-school event.
Is the Math Festival suitable for Middle School students?
We have conducted over 950 Math Festivals, and almost a fourth of those were successful programs at middle schools. A Math Festival is VERY appropriate for 6th through 8th grade students. For a middle school Math Festival we choose the more advanced stations to set up, and they’ve proven very challenging for ALL middle school students from Special Education to Gifted and Talented. Because of the different levels of difficulty at each station, students can naturally seek their own level of ability. If you have low ability students, they will find MANY activities at each station at which they can be successful while gradually working harder and harder problems. If you have exceptional 8th grade students, they too will find ample problems that challenge even adults. In scheduling a Math Festival for a middle school, please take note that the Festival takes over the entire gym or cafeteria for the whole day, and precludes any other activity from happening before, during, or after the Math Festival sessions; this includes after school as well if there is a Family Math Festival scheduled that evening.
For your middle school’s first Math Festival, we recommend the Algebra Festival!
Is the Festival appropriate for non-English speaking and Special Education students?
Students throughout California have been fully able to participate in their school’s Math Festival including sites with high populations of English language learners. The instructions for each Festival station have been translated into Spanish, and even though the individual station tasks are not translated, they have VERY FEW words. None of the Math Festivals activities are reading intensive, nor does reading play a key role in student access. Students who are second language learners have no problem figuring out the tasks at ANY Math Festival station because they are very intuitive and include MANY visual examples, pictures, and diagrams. In addition, parent volunteers give students the level of assistance they need. This is one of the most important roles of the parent volunteers during a Festival; they can show students how to do an activity in a very brief time. We have even hosted TWO very successful Math Festival programs at the California School for the Deaf!
Are the materials translated for use by non-English speaking parents at the Parent/Student Festival?
While there are the Spanish translations of the instructions at each Festival station for the Algebra, Geometry, and Number Math Festivals, a most interesting and wonderful effect makes further translation unnecessary: since their students have passed through the school’s Math Festival that very day, they become instant “experts” and take on the role of teacher and translator for their own family members. The only need for a real translator is during the opening comments and instructions for the Math Festival before the families are released to go to the Festival stations.