GCPS students agree: Math Rules!

GCPS students agree: Math Rules!

Dr. Greta Loeber, left, and Lisa Lee, far right, are joined by the student stars of Fall 2007's Episode #7 of the "Math Rules!" GCPS TV program. The students represent Sugar Hill, Simonton, Dyer, and Gwin Oaks elementary schools.
Two children review the properties of three-dimensional shapes and look over a colorful game board. The students are eager to get started strengthening their geometry skills. These 4th graders— one from Simonton ES, the other from J.G. Dyer ES— are on the set of “Math Rules!” a GCPS TV program for elementary students and their parents. With a roll of the dice, the fun and games (and interactive learning) begin.

Hosted by Dr. Greta Loeber, math specialist at Simpson ES, and K-12 Mathematics Coach Lisa Lee, “Math Rules!” covers the elementary-level math strands— number and operation, geometry, measurement, algebra, and data analysis concepts— and, literally, allows viewers to “play around” with what they know.

“Children need many avenues and strategies to learn, and almost all students like to play games,” says Dr. Loeber. “Sometimes, students develop, discover, or sharpen their skills in a setting that is social and fun.”

Locally developed and produced, the show fills a niche in the GCPS TV line-up. With nine episodes produced and an Emmy nomination, “Math Rules!” is designed for children and parents to watch together. Viewers who want to play the games from the show at home can find directions and game materials on the GCPS web site, as well as at-home learning tips and curriculum information about the skills covered in the current episode. (Click here for online resources for “Math Rules!” Episode #7— on three-dimensional shapes and fractions— which is airing now.)
Student participants on the show are all Gwinnett elementary students, selected through a casting call issued to the school district’s math specialists, Middle School Math Focus Team members, and High School mathematics department chairs. The show’s producers looked for students who are confident in their mathematics abilities, able to share their thought processes in solving problems, and have an outgoing personality.

“The best shows are the ones where students talk us through their thinking just like the discourse we may have in the classroom,” says Dr. Loeber. “Games can foster communication and reflection, improve thinking skills, and deepen students’ understanding of mathematics.”

Mrs. Lee advocates math games as a classroom tool, and uses them regularly with math students (and teachers) across the district. For students who have progressed to middle and high school math, she offers advice to parents on maintaining and expanding their students’ interest in mathematics. “One of the most important aspects is to keep the focus on application,” she says. “When students see they are learning concepts that they will use and apply in their lives, the interest level is heightened.”
Dr. Loeber and Mrs. Lee guide a pair of their Episode #7 stars through "Fraction Fill In," a math game in which competitors capture squares containing common fractions using dice.