University of Arizona
Institute for Mathematics and Education

MAPPS at Hohokam

On a late winter evening in 2007, 25 parents of Hohokam Middle School students and its feeders marked a milestone in their children's education. The parents successfully completed an eight-week Math for Parents Mini-Course, Thinking with Fractions, Decimals and Percents. The class, designed to give parents the ability to help their middle-schoolers with math homework, left parents with a new appreciation of numbers, despite their own unhappy experiences (see sidebar).

The February 26, 2008 event was the culmination of a two-year effort by a team of a dozen Tucson Unified School District educators, led by TUSD Title I coordinator Shelly Duran, to involve parents in the mathematical education of their children.

When several one-session workshops at Hohokam and Lawrence Elementary proved successful, the planners decided to try a mini-course, even though it would involve a much greater commitment by parents to attend eight two-hour sessions. They hoped parent participants would become promoters for the program, and could become co-facilitators in future workshops.

The mini-course proved popular. Each session began with dinner in the Hohokam courtyard, followed by two hours of mathematics in the library. A Spanish language translator was present to aid about a third of the parents, who preferred to speak and solve problems in Spanish. Childcare center was provided. Five teachers from Hohokam and its elementary feeder schools received special training to facilitate the sessions.

The last session of the mini-course began as the others had, with dinner and mathematics but ended with a celebration. Each parent received a certificate of completion and congratulations from school officials. For the parent-participants, the occasion was both bitter and sweet.

"This is sad. What are we going to do when this is over? We want to do more math!" one parent said.

The school officials—including TUSD Superintendent Roger Pfeuffer; TUSD Principal Supervisor for Hohokam, Ross Sheard; Hohokam Principal John Michel Lawrence Principal, Ana Gallegos—were pleased with the outcome.

"This program is really powerful," Pfeuffer said.

"This is the greatest program I've ever seen for parents. Ever. In any subject," said Sheard.

Officials from feeder schools are asking for Math for Parents Programs, and the MAPPS Team expects to see more MAPPS activities at Hohokam, too. They hope to involve mini-course participants in leadership roles. MAPPS at Hohokam and its feeders was made possible by funds from a GEAR-UP grant; a 21st Century grant; Title I and other TUSD funds; and the Institute of Mathematics and Education, and the MAPPS Center, both in the UA Department of Mathematics.

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