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Equation invasion
Students refine math skills during local camp
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Teacher Bonnie Penn works with Tyrell Dillard recently at Restoration Family Resource Center’s (RFRC) math camp. The camp is for rising Martinsville City Public Schools fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders. Integrity Life Ministries operates RFRC. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Delvin Roberts didn’t like it at first when his mom told him he was going to summer math camp.

“I wanted to go swimming,” said Delvin, who recently completed fifth grade at Albert Harris Elementary School.

But now he’s glad he’s attending the math camp, he said. “It’s fun.”

Restoration Family Resource Center (RFRC), at 509 Fayette St., is offering a free, eight-week math camp for rising Martinsville City Public Schools fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders. Integrity Life Ministries operates RFRC.

The camp, which started June 2, runs daily from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at RFRC. Students also use the computer lab at Albert Harris Elementary parts of some days. Breakfast and lunch are provided for campers.

Delvin said the camp, so far, has helped him with multiplication and division.

That will “help me get better grades and stuff” in the future, he said.

The camp is designed to give students the opportunity to enhance their math skills and prepare for future careers in advanced manufacturing or other STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs, according to RFRC.

“Boys and girls who are elementary school students now must master fundamental mathematics if they are going to be prepared for the challenges of calculus and trigonometry when they reach high school. This level of math is required for career paths like advanced manufacturing,” a camp brochure says.

“If you’re in (one of the targeted grades) and you can’t do math, NCI is of no benefit to you,” said Sharon Brooks Hodge, referring to new programs such as advanced manufacturing that the New College Institute (NCI) is developing. She is the chairman of the board of directors at RFRC and a member of Martinsville City Council.

“I’m trying to be in a leadership capacity, supporting people who have ideas and don’t know how to leverage them,” she said.

“We’re trying to get the Fayette Street area to come together,” Hodge said. “We can help save our children ourselves.”

Martinsville City Public Schools is providing bus transportation to and from the camp at RFRC, said camp teacher Bonnie Penn, a retired educator.

Zeb Talley Jr., principal of Patrick Henry Elementary School, and Bobby Dalton, assistant principal at Albert Harris Elementary, are on the board of directors of RFRC.

Talley said students in general “lose so much” over the summer in terms of learning. Summer is a time for children to relax and play, but they also need educational activities, he added.

The math camp is giving students additional “time on task” (time spent learning), which is a key to academic success and will help them sharpen their math skills, Talley said.

Penn has a couple of volunteer tutors and needs more to serve the 16 campers enrolled. Others interested in volunteering may call her at 638-2216.

The camp uses a computer-based math curriculum in which students solve math problems. The program scores the student’s work and gives instructions on how to correctly do the problems the student missed, Penn said.

Because there is only one laptop computer at the camp at RFRC, Penn has students begin by doing math problems on work sheets and then taking turns keying in their answers on the laptop. Campers walk to nearby Albert Harris Elementary on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for about an a hour and a half to two hours of computer time, she said.

Penn said she assists students with lessons as needed and takes them aside for one-on-one instruction, also as needed.

Penn also has students do math-based puzzles, games, physical activities and other activities. For example, in the running game 1, 2, 3 red light, Penn has students use factors (numbers you can multiply together to get another number).

To get students to do “presentations,” Penn assigned them write and perform a song, poem, story or rap involving multiplication.

Camper Tyreniasha Dillard said taking part in the multiplication rap helps “me remember in a fun way.” Similarly, camper Cameron Dillard said doing the rap had been his favorite activity so far.

Tyreniasha also said, “I understand it (division) much better” as a result of math camp.

“It’s fun ... how it teaches long division and fractions,” Cameron added.

Tyreniasha and Cameron are rising sixth-graders at Martinsville Middle School.

Penn said she stresses that students memorize the multiplication tables, which also helps with division. She said some students had been using methods that took them longer to do multiplication and division.

Jamier Manns, a rising fifth-grader at Albert Harris, said he likes “when the teacher gives me love and support.”

Topics being or to be covered include number sense and properties, math facts and computation, pattern and pre-algebra, problem solving, geometry and measurement, and probability and statistics.

The camp also will feature speakers about how campers can use math in the future and field trips with math-based activities.

Penn said her students’ confidence has increased. “They’re not afraid of the challenge of math,” she said.


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