Starting junior high can be awkward, stressful and often angst ridden for any newly minted seventh-grader.
Kalles Junior High math teacher Heidi Matson is hopeful her students attending Puyallup School District’s Math Camp will feel more comfortable starting a new year in a new school.
“It’s open to all incoming seventh-graders in the valley,” she said of the camp. “It’s focusing on kids who are struggling with math.”
Matson and other teachers from Kalles, Edgemont, Aylen and Glacier View junior highs are helping students with a curriculum that steps away from the typical paper-and-pencil math most students are used to.
The students are utilizing different math-based games to help them learn positive and negative numbers, fractions and more throughout the eight-day camp, which wraps up Thursday.
“From my experience, the students that struggle understanding negative numbers often struggle later in life, too,” Matson said.
For student Trevor Parker, Math Camp is helping him stay motivated for the upcoming school year.
“I like how we’re learning the number line (of positive and negative numbers),” he said. “It’s easy for me to work hard when I’m motivated.”
Not only is the program helping students stay motivated, Matson said that of the 35 students that took pre and post Math Camp tests last year, 33 improved their test scores.
Matson designed the program to have each junior high from the valley represented — to help the students have at least one familiar face on the first day of school.
“Hopefully, their anxiety about the first day of school will be gone,” she said.
Students are also getting to know their future junior high classmates through out the week as well.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said student Sammie Allen. “I like that we are getting to know each other by playing games.”
Matson has taught Math Camp in previous districts including White River, Prosser and Spokane. Each year, she saw students improve their understanding of math — and improve their test scores.
“I struggle in math,” said student Sophia Whitfeld. “The people here are really fun, and it’s helping me improve.”
Math Camp was free for students, and each were given backpacks with pencils, scissors, highlighters and a white board to start off the school year on the right foot.