Five Ideas to Help You Start a Middle School Math Club

Five Ideas to Help You Start a Middle School Math Club
The Editorial Team January 11, 2013

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A great way for a teacher to encourage students’ interest in middle school math is to start a math club on campus. A math club is a great place for kids to make friends with like-minded classmates and learn techniques to solve difficult math problems.

Integrating math with social activities will help encourage students to ask for help on more advanced math problems when they get older. Here are five ideas to help educators start a middle school math club:

1. Drum up excitement

Good publicity is the key to starting any new endeavor. Teachers can drum up excitement about a new math club in their middle school by putting up posters in the school hallways. Add interesting and fun math problems to the posters to increase the interest of the students. Include sign-up sheets near the posters to encourage kids to enter their names. This will give the educator an idea of how many students to expect at the first meeting.

It’s also a good idea to place a notice in the school newspaper and to have someone in the administrative office read an announcement over the intercom to reach those students who might not have seen the posters.

Teachers can also enlist math students to put on a skit about the upcoming math club and perform it at the school assembly at the start of the year or during a pep rally.

2. Incentives

Incentives are an excellent method for encouraging student participation in a math club. If the club meets before school, the teacher can provide donuts or other snacks. For a math club that meets after school, pizza is a good incentive as sharing a meal is useful for encouraging social bonding among kids.

Letting students know about future competitions can be a strong motivator for them to fully participate in the math club and to learn everything they can about math. When the math club leader divides the students into groups for contest preparation, the kids will also be naturally inclined to compete among themselves as they discover one another’s math strengths. Leaders will emerge, and talented students will benefit from peer recognition.

3. Meeting space and time

When preparing a math club, middle school teachers will find it useful to change the meeting venue regularly. This will give the math club a more casual feel rather than seeming like a regimented classroom.

The educator should set up a weekly schedule that includes a variety of events, beginning with icebreakers for the first meetings so that the kids can get a chance to become acquainted with one another and to see how fun it is to learn math. The schedule should include a meeting every week, even if no specific events are planned.

4. Reach out to parents and businesses

A teacher who is setting up a math club will want to reach out to parents and businesses for assistance. It’s important to gather contact information from parents to help with organizing carpools for students who otherwise take the bus after school, for example, so they won’t have to worry about how to get home after the math club meeting.

The teacher should establish a list of interested parents who can serve as volunteers for the club once it begins meeting.

Educators should also contact local businesses to solicit support, such as pizza for math club contest preparation meetings or T-shirts to provide group solidarity.

5. Contact other teachers

A teacher interested in beginning a math club will need to contact other educators in the school. These teachers can help identify students who excel in and enjoy math, and they can encourage these students to sign up for the club. Other teachers are also invaluable for helping run meetings, such as serving as a backup on days when the original teacher is out sick or on vacation.

A good way to bring in some fresh ideas to the math club is to contact teachers in the math department at the local college or university to see if they will come and give a demonstration of current mathematics research. It’s also useful to ask the university’s math department if it will sponsor the middle school as a Mathematical Association of America student chapter.

Starting a math club in middle school is a great way to engage students and encourage them to explore and learn about math while making new social connections with like-minded companions.

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