¡AniMate! Kicking off a new math program

The group of 4th-6th grade teachers who participated in an AniMate workshop on February 17th.

We are excited to share that we have kicked off of the AniMate Math Program, which stands for Animación Matemática. In English this means, making math livelier. That is exactly what AniMate is doing, as it works to make math more accessible, understandable, and fun for students and teachers alike. The program is a result of the success of our Partner School Program and is a way to continue to foster relationships with teachers. The AniMate Program offers teachers resources and techniques they can duplicate in their classrooms to make math more engaging for students.

Jorge presenting a teaching technique to make math fun

Why focusing on math is important
Sitting down with Jorge Monge, coordinator of the AniMate program, he explains that teachers who were part of the Partner School Program stressed that they wanted more help with math teaching techniques. This desire stems from the lack of understanding of the National Math Curriculum called Guatemática, which was established by the Guatemala Ministry of Education in 2006. After the launch of this new curriculum, many teachers did not receive the proper training or guides to learn how to teach it. Last year, Common Hope, with the endorsement of the Ministry of Education, provided training to teachers on the curriculum.

AniMate is the next step, as teachers continue to be trained in ways to effectively and engagingly teach math to their students. Jorge explains that, “the biggest challenge in schools is that math is very hard to understand. The difficulty of math can lead to kids dropping out of school. If teachers have better lessons and materials, we can get more kids to enjoy math.” This year we are offering workshops for teachers from preschool through sixth grade.

“The biggest challenge in schools is that math is very hard to understand. The difficulty of math can lead to kids dropping out of school. If teachers have better lessons and materials, we can get more kids to enjoy math.”

AniMate workshop session

All of the partner schools are invited to participate in the workshops, including San Miguel Escobar, Santa Catalina, Guardiania el Hato, San Rafael, and San Miguel Milpas Altas. In the workshops, teachers get the opportunity to learn different math topics, make materials, and borrow materials to use in their classrooms. The materials that can be borrowed include games, manipulatives, flash cards, and text books to consult about different activities. “It is harder to teach a teacher than to teach kids. If teachers can change the way they learn, they will improve the quality of their lessons they are teaching to their students. If they open up to better ways to learn, they will do better when they have to teach it,” said Jorge about the importance of the workshops.

Teachers working with manipulatives to understand hands-on techniques for teaching math

Kicking things off
The workshops are being held at the Antigua site on Fridays, and we hosted the first one on February 10th for 1st through 3rd grade teachers. We anticipated 20 teachers would attend and in fact, 23 teachers from different schools participated! Renato Westby, Director of the Partner School Program said, “this training was offered as an extra-curricular activity which meant teachers volunteered their time. This is what made our attendance even more impressive.” On February 17th, the second workshop took place for 4th through 6th grade teachers.

The AniMate Program also has plans to explore working with students in the afternoons. The kids that are struggling in math or want to strengthen their math skills can come to the math center and use manipulatives, objects which are designed so that a student can perceive some mathematical concept by manipulating it. This is a great hands-on way for kids to learn. Jorge states that the ultimate goal for the center is, “to be a space where kids can see math as fun and useful for life,” and a library for math resources that teachers, students, parents, families and staff can all use.

Common Hope’s plan is to begin working with students in March from the Santa Catarina Partner School. Third-graders will be invited two afternoons a week to do math activities. As an organization, we are excited to see how AniMate will increase math efficiencies for students in our Partner Schools.

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