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By Tara Cavanaugh
Sometimes, a little extra attention can go a long way.
In a 6-week pilot program, volunteers from Comerica Bank and Google have been playing math games with fourth and fifth grade students at Abbot Elementary for one hour every Thursday during lunch. The program, which was coordinated by AAPS Partners for Excellence, provides extra help for students who participate in Title 1 programming.
“They have to strategize on how to play the games and that logical thinking transfers to helping them across the curriculum,” said Cathy Stone, a Title 1 teacher at Abbot.
Title 1 is a federally funded program that is similar to Head Start, but for elementary students instead of preschoolers. Stone provides extra support for students who are struggling.
This program provides the extra help in a fun way.
“They love it,” Stone said. “They can’t wait. They remind me that it’s Thursday and it’s time to play.” Stone has also extended the program to Fridays, so that students can continue playing the new games with each other.
The games also encourage the students to become leaders. “Some of the children are going back into the classroom and becoming teachers and showing the other kids in the class how to play the games they’ve learned,” Stone said.
The adult volunteers establish a relationship with the students by working with the same group each week.
“I think it’s something that definitely has lasting appeal and could work on a larger scale,” said Max Davidson, a volunteer from Google. “We’ve only been doing it for four weeks, but I can already see some improvement.”
Davidson has worked with two girls, Taylor and Emilee. “One of the girls had a little bit of trouble in the beginning figuring out strategy, and she’s already gotten better at it,” he said. “She won a few games last week, and I think that was great for her.”
Stone, like Davidson, thinks the program could be replicated. The pilot program ends in two weeks, but she hopes to get some of the volunteers to return for Reading Month in March.
“I think that any time they can get extra attention from another adult is great,” Stone said. “You really can see the kids’ confidence building week to week.”