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Take a look through the infographic below for a summary of highlights from the CBRC webinar. Some topics explored include: how we can close the achievement gap, strategies to make remote and hybrid learning more accessible, and how to make partnerships between the public, non-profit, and the private sector more reciprocal, feasible, and sustainable to advance equity and social justice.


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Click on the YouTube video below to watch the full Community-Based Research Canada (CCBR) webinar on closing the opportunity gap for racialized and under-resourced communities through YAAACE's Community School Initiative.

In this webinar, Mr. Jones (YAAACE Founder) and the research team consisting of Dr. Ardavan Eizadirad (Principal Investigator), Sally Abudiab and Brice Baartman (Senior Research Assistants) provide an overview of the projects objectives and methods of data collection as well as the key themes and findings from their research partnership. Identified themes include: holistic and culturally relevant programming, structured programming communication and parental engagement, the digital divide and inequality, and effective pedagogies. This is followed by recommendations for mitigating the barriers and disruptions to teaching, learning, and community-based programming caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


A special thanks to Sarah Switzer and the whole CCBR team for hosting this webinar and providing the research team with an online forum to discuss the implications of our findings for YAAACE and other community-based organizations that offer supplementary education programs.

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  • Spirit of Math

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Spirit of Math (SoM) is an innovative leader in mathematics education, offering a system of after-school math classes for high-performing and gifted students. With more than 30 years of success, Spirit of Math is changing the equation for math minds around the world, with after-school in-person classes, online programs, camps, training for educators, and an expanding series of math workbooks.


Overview:


Spirit of Math classes are 39 weeks long, they start in September and end in June. Classes run weekly for 1.25 hours for Kindergarten, 1.5 hours for Gr. 1 – 8, and 2 hours for Gr. 9-11. Students attend the same class with the same students for an entire academic year. There is homework each lesson, tests at the end of each unit, and an exam for every grade at the end of the school year. In addition, the grades 1 through 4 students write a Spirit of Math contest in February. All students are encouraged to participate in many national and international competitions for fun. Parental involvement is expected with regular communication, including progress reports and report cards which are handed out 3 times a year.


Spirit of Math classes are fast paced with specific times designated for different tasks. In all grades, the teacher teaches the basic concepts to the class – as a class – carefully crafting questions for the students that will ‘pull’ ideas from the class. This opens students’ minds to higher levels of learning and gives them the proper logical thinking skills they need to tackle tough problems. Students then have an opportunity to ask questions and often come up with ideas that may seem surprising for their age groups, but are typical of high-achieving learners. This is followed by assigned work that starts with some basic questions, but quickly introduces twists that will test students’ comprehension. This method ensures that the process of just memorizing steps and procedures is replaced by a true understanding of each concept.


Curriculum:


Spirit of Math has its own unique curriculum that does not align with the Ministry of Education curriculum. The foundation of Spirit of Math program is based on four elements.


  1. Drills: The drills component encourages cooperation among the students, helps build self-confidence and develops the students’ accuracy in mental calculation.

  2. Problem Solving: In every grade in Spirit of Math there are hundreds of problems that students must answer. These assignments provide for research and experimentation with numbers, but are largely aimed at developing both problem solving and relationship skills.

  3. Core Curriculum: The core program was developed with the intent to give students the opportunity to delve deeper into concepts and to expose students to ideas that they don’t normally meet in the day-schools. It is also skill-based, developing the skill sets that need students for their future work in mathematics. The core curriculum focused on the following topics:

  • Grade 1: Integers, Multiplication, Fractions

  • Grade 2: Integers, Primes, Rationals

  • Grade 3: Relocation, Primes, Composites, Factors, Fractions

  • Grade 4: Integers, Relocation, Prime Numbers and Prime Factoring, Tests of Divisibility, Geometry

  • Grade 5: Relocation Property, Signed Numbers, Order of Operations, Factors, Multiples, Primes, Number Sets

4. Cooperative Learning: Cooperative group work and presentation skills are developed in class, not only for their essential life-skills benefits, but because teamwork is often essential for a student to get the solution to a problem. Through teamwork, students develop the ability to work effectively with others, learning from their peers, and learning how to make helpful contributions to group learning.


These elements create a multi-layered learning experience that creates well-rounded students who have an intensive toolkit of skills, logical problem solving, and higher-level collaborative capabilities.


Y.A.A.A.C.E. students had access to SoM curriculum with slight adjustments such as the class was 2 hours long and students were assigned to each grade based on their skills and knowledge.


Training:


All new teachers must complete two mandatory courses before they start teaching with Spirit of Math. These courses are the Fundamentals of Teaching Mathematics 1 (FTM1) and Fundamentals of Teaching Mathematics 2 (FTM2). FTM 1 is a 40-hour online course which introduces the Spirit of Math curriculum and focuses on Problem Solving for grades 1-4 and Number Theory topics for grade 5 (e.g., relocation property, integers, order of operations, and factors multiples and primes). Teachers work independently and submit assignments for marking. To pass this course, teachers must complete 20 assignments and three written tests with the score of 80% or above. FTM 2 is a 40-hour in-person course that focuses on pedagogical aspects of teaching mathematics in Spirit of Math classes. This course includes the following topics: classroom management, classroom set-up, overview of the curriculum, creating a lesson plan, marking, cooperative learning, questioning techniques, etc. The course is not only focusing on the theoretical application of different pedagogical approaches but also how to apply it in the classroom. All teachers must pass the practice teaching.


All Y.A.A.A.C.E. teachers were trained by Spirit of Math successfully and passed these courses before they started teaching the Spirit of Math curriculum.

Throughout the school year, all Y.A.A.A.C.E. teachers receive continued support through regular professional development sessions.


Classes:


Last year, Y.A.A.A.C.E. offered SoM classes for grades 1-5 to 63 Y.A.A.A.C.E. students. Classes were held weekly and were two hours long. All teachers offered weekly homework drop-in sessions on Microsoft Teams. In addition, all students were enrolled in an online course specific to their grade, which contained teaching videos, gradebook, and additional practice quizzes. Students were assessed weekly through homework assignments, regular tests, and a final exam


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