From what I understood, prior to my visit, this program was an after school program for 8th graders in STEM. It was a program that met every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm. I also was told that the because of this, the program was not tied to a specific curriculum. The day I went to observe I was a bit surprised at the casual atmosphere of the program. That might have been because it was the programs first day of the semester; I may have to visit again before my actual workshop date to do more observations. Something else that I found surprising during my visit was the presence of other Trinity students there. Apparently, there is tutoring service provided for the students that are in this after school program, and a handful of students had their own individual mentors. Because it was the first day, students were only working on homework/playing games like UNO. The students also had a small social event where they decorated cupcakes with their mentors. I got the opportunity to sit in on this and also play some games with some of the students in the program.
As I was walking already the classroom, I noticed that students primarily were working on math homework. I asked a student if I could to take a look at their worksheet so I can get a better idea of what area of mathematics students were working towards. The worksheet had problems that encourage students to create and analyze functions they created to model situations outlined. I also noticed that students working on math were doing so on computers. It did not occur to me that this was something that can be problematic to students until I heard a student ask “What if we don’t have computers at home then what do we do?”. This student did not have the same homework assignment but was asking it as to critique the school for assigning homework that was unfair to some students. The common theme I noticed on students assigned work, is that it encouraged students to think about relationships between variables, functions and graphs. This is interesting to me because I have noticed, from prior experience working with students, that this is an area students do poorly in. Most students couldn’t tell you how these things are related correctly, yet they can answer procedure like questions about functions and graphs.
When speaking to the program director present, I was told they were unaware of were students were in their math classes. She suggested we analyze some student work to get a sense of what they’re working on. From this, I know that my partner and I have a level of flexibility when working with these students. We also discussed media release forms with the her and were told most students had them through the program itself, except one student who refused to be recorded in anyway.
Overall the program is flexible enough for my partner and I to go outside the curriculum and teach the students something cool. We were able to gather the area students were at through the worksheet. In addition, I also read the grade 8 common core math standards. I am excited to be able to facilitate a workshop with such flexibility with these students.