A Home Visit with MAPPS Parents

At the end of a workshop or a mini-course session, parents are usually given surveys to let us know what they thought about their experiences.  I wanted to know more.  I wanted to go to the homes of some of the parents who participated in the Data For Parents mini-course at Hohokam Middle School this past fall semester, 2009.

I first needed a set of questions to ask and structured it around no more than 20 questions and/or a 30 minute to 45 minute length interview.  The questions focused on the parents’ learning experiences in mathematics in school and during the mini-course.  They also focused on what their strengths and areas of improvements in mathematics before the MAPPS mini-course and after the MAPPS mini-course.  I also wanted to know what they wanted me to know about their child as a learner and about them as a learner.  Another piece was asking how they involved mathematics or learning mathematics at the home, as a family.

In the beginning of my learning experience, I encountered parents who were not comfortable with a home visit.  This is completely normal, but you will find a parent or two who will open their doors to you.  As an offering of thanks and a good way to break the ice, I brought some tamales to the family.  Once one door opens, others will follow.

Maria Jimenez is a single mother of three children, 7, 4, and 2 years of age.  She and her mother Ana Guzman participated in the MAPPS Mini-Course at their nearby middle school, Hohokam Middle School. Maria’s older daughter attends a feeder school of Hohokam.  Ana’s grandson, who she is taking care of at home, is in 4th grade and also attends the same elementary school.  Along with the other parents, they both participated once a week for eight weeks last fall semester.

As a result of taking the mini-course, Maria is taking classes at a nearby community college to prepare her to work in Medical Records and Billings.  In one of her math classes, she worked on stem-and-leaf plots, finding the mean, median, and mode, and other topics that were taught during the mini-course.  She felt so comfortable being in this math class because she felt better prepared.

Maria:  “In Math 82, the college course I am taking now, four of my sections were on mean, median, and mode on all the graphs.  On the actual test, it was actually our final exam, I got a 90. It was on mean, median, and mode and all the histograms.. (Parent Interview, April 2010).”

I asked both Maria and Ana how they felt about taking the mini-course for 8 weeks and the following was their feedback:

Christina:”How did you feel about going for 8 weeks? Was that too lengthy?”

Maria:  “No.  I would have kept on going.  It was like a break.  I loved the childcare and the dinner.  I mean it was like a break, I loved it.”

Ana:  “You feel like you were doing something to help your kids.  And they see that you are involved with the school and that you are trying as a parent to help them so it makes them want to try harder too (Parent Interview, April 2010).”

The following are some of the suggestions that both Maria and Ana shared for the schools to think about for future sessions:

1.  They need help with knowing how to help their children with the current homework.  Especially to understand what the worksheets were asking their children to do.  So, there could be the MAPPS night and at the last 30 minute, go over their child’s homework.

2.  With the homework help, have the students come back to the MAPPS night and both parent and student are getting help at the same time.

3.  Have teachers provide a step by step guide for parents to use when trying to help their children at home with the homework (Parent Interview, April 2010).

After leaving their home, I felt that I understood more of what the parents wanted.  Both felt more empowered in mathematics after taking the Data for Parents and more able to help their children at home. Both Ana and Maria furthered shared how they were able to help their 4th grader with constructing a stem-and-leaf plot and a box-and-whisker plot that he was asked to do for homework.  What Ana also shared about being an example to her grandson was one of my “aha” moments.  Not only can parents learn the mathematics for themselves, but they are also being examples to their children about learning.  It is essential for anyone who is utilizing the MAPPS Program at their school or district to conduct home visits from time to time in order to get a feel as to what is being done to the relationship between parent and student in the learning of mathematics.

Things to Consider:

1.  When either the workshops or mini-courses are being advertised, parents need to know that it is open to anyone who has students in any grade level K-8 and what it will specifically focus on.

2.  It is also important for schools to make time afterwards for both parents and students to receive help in the homework that was assigned that day or week.

3.  You may want to consider aligning workshops or mini-courses according to the sequencing of math topics that are being taught during that particular time of the school year.

4.  Think of the information you can get from making a home visit to your parents.  Share with us your experiences on the blog.

Note:  Both parent names are pseudonyms.

– Christina


Grants for Parent Involvement for Schools and School Districts

In connection with David’s blog response regarding “Funding for the Hohokam MAPPS Program”, there are grants/mini-grants that schools and school districts can apply for funding to have the MAPPS Program as their parent involvement program. The first two websites are not the only sources, but something to help you begin your endeavor. In addition, the third website will help you with conducting a search for any updated grants that are available.





Funding for the Hohokam MAPPS Program

Some of you have asked how the MAPPS Program at Hohokam, Johnson, Lawrence, Maldonado, and Miller was funded.  Here’s a brief summary.  Most of the support came from Title I funds.  The major part of these funds was used to pay stipends to the facilitator/teachers and to pay for their training.  Other support came from TUSD’s Family Support which provided mini-course childcare and some of the meals served before each mini-course session.  TUSD’s Native American Studies Department also provided meals.  TUSD’s Meaningful Access provided the English-Spanish interpreters.  Support from outside the District came from the Institute for Mathematics and Education (IM&E), which provided food for the training sessions, a meal preceding one mini-course, and parent incentives for the mini-courses.  The incentives were canvas bags (printed with the TUSD, the Yaqui Tribe, and the MAPPS Center logos) and 100 raffle prizes handed out over the eight week course. IM&E is housed in the Mathematics Department at the University of Arizona.

– David

The University of Georgia Math and Parent Partnership program took place at four Title I elementary schools in Griffin, GA. Our project included classroom teachers who enjoyed learning along with the parents in the two mini-courses we offered. Parents, teachers, and children alike learned how to use tangrams to understand fractions, and they took the MAPPS activities back to their homes and classrooms for more practice. After having struggled with fractions throughout the year, one 2nd grade student announced, “Oh, I got it. I got it now!” as she shifted the tangram pieces.  She could explain her understanding as well. She realized that the smaller triangle was half the size of the larger triangle. Furthermore, she could also recognize the fractional relationship between the trapezoid and hexagon with pattern blocks.

We are finding that MAPPS empowered parents to work with their children on math homework instead of sending them off to their rooms to complete it alone. Also, the parents and teachers in MAPPS formed close-knit learning communities. By the end of the second mini-course, they didn’t want it to end! We held graduation ceremonies at each school, and every participant received a certificate for participating. We look forward to expanding to neighboring school districts in the 2009-2010 school year.

Andrea Knapp, Ph.D.

Mathematics and Science Education

University of Georgia Griffin Campus

MAPPS Training with Teachers

David has talked about the Hohokom Middle School project and the last session of the Geometry mini-course series. I would like to take a few minutes and tell you about the MAPPS training I did with the teachers that facilitated the Geometry for Parents mini-course.  I did three 6-hour training sessions with the teachers; two in December and one in January. I enjoyed facilitating this group as they were excited and exuberant about learning and teaching the Geometry mini-course to parents. The information even carried over into their classrooms. They talked about activities we did in the training that they could do in their classes with their students. The teachers had formed a bond to where each of them wanted to be present the evening of the mini-course session. During each mini-course session there were 2 main facilitators and at least 4 facilitator helpers. During the training we worked through each session and activity in its entirety and in January debriefed about the previous sessions on how is it going and what modifications need to be made for sessions 6-8.  The debriefing time was very valuable in that the teachers were able to express their joys and frustrations. “Ahas” the teachers experienced while facilitating each mini-course sessionwere: parents are still willing to work even though they have reached a frustration level; parents share their ah ha with each other; parents are engrossed and motivated; parents make meaningful connections to their daily life and share with others. Some frustrations that the teachers expressed were: not having parents show up that said they would, parents eat and leave, start time, and too much distance between training and sessions. Some of the frustrations expressed are out of our control but we can keep working at it. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear from you. I do know that in planning for the next mini-course in the fall and from the teachers input, I would like to have more training sessions, shorter in length, and closer to the time of the delivery of the mini-course sessions with the parents.

– Mary

Update on project at Hohokam Middle School

Here is an up-date on a local project. In the Stories section of our Web site, we reported that, last winter, a team of individuals from Tucson Unified School District ran a Math for Parents Mini-Course at Hohokam Middle School for parents from Hohokam and Johnson Elementary (a feeder to Hohokam). It was so successful that other feeder elementary schools wanted to join in and the district decided to offer two sections of a new Mini-Course this winter.In our Web site story, we mention that the demographics of Hohokam is 49% Hispanic, 49% Yaqui, 2% anglo. Yaqui is a local Native American tribe. When tribal council members found out that an average of 40 parents attended each of the 8 sessions of last winter’s course, they were astounded. They had never attracted that many parents to a single parent event – ever.

So, right now, two sections of Geometry for Parents are taking place for parents of Hohokam, Lawrence, Johnson, Miller, and Maldonado students. One section takes place in the Hohokam school library. The other takes place about a mile away at Southwest Education Center. The sessions of the course take place every Tuesday evening, 5:30-7:30. They began January 5. Since sessions build on each other, the ideal is that each parent participant attend all 8 sessions.

The model the Hohokam team is using to facilitate the course is kind of a team-teaching one. Last November, Mary ran two, 6-hour workshops here on campus to train a group of 12 teachers from the participating schools to facilitate the courses. At each Mini Course session all these trained teachers show up – more or less. At the session I attended last week two were facilitating; the others circulated to answer questions and provide encouragement. Next session, roles will be reversed. This model of facilitating is sort of new for us. In previous Mini-Course offerings, the model was one facilitator throughout the course — a master teacher (not always from the parents’ kids’ schools) — and a couple of assistants circulating among the parents. The Hohokam model has a real plus. Since the facilitators are from the participating schools, there is a strong buy-in from the teaching staff of each participating school.

At the session I attended, there was a lottery for half a dozen baskets of goodies. These were handed out with a lot of fanfare at the end of the session. I think this happens every session. Last Saturday Mary ran a third workshop for the facilitating teachers to debrief the first half of the course and to complete their training for the Mini-Course. We should hear from Mary on this, soon. Stay tuned!