Math Renaissance at School House Lane
Rodi leads a yearlong Math Circle through School House Lane – run by Melissa Church of Staging Journeys -which is a secular peer homeschool program for students in grades 4th-6th and/or ages 10-12. This program emphasizes adult-scaffolded academics in a group setting to foster collaboration, inspiration, and the joy of learning in a community. School House Lane is a complete Language Arts program; from the nitty-gritty skills to the very creative, participants will explore the world of words through reading, writing, and speaking. The program will also cover enough science and social studies for the year for some families, and will include a weekly Math Circle with Rodi. For information about this program, please contact us.
Math Buddies is a girls-only, invitation-only, yearlong Math Circle. It began as a student-created year-long program for 10-year-old homeschoolers in 2014. The students’ goal was to make math fun again. Rodi’s goal was to do math, of course, but also to talk about and foster skill-building with the highly emotional component of mathematics. The mathematical content was originally based upon Natural Math’s Multiplication Explorers Course. Over a year, Math Buddies grew in scope to include student-requested topics and also games such as Go and a weekly student-designed logic game called Math Squares Math Buddies grew in size to include younger and older siblings and parents. The participants bonded over math and decided to rename what was originally called “Girls Math Circle” Math Buddies. Contact us if you are interested in reviving this program for your group of (approximately) 10-year-old girls.
What is a Math Circle?
In a Math Circle, a leader presents a vague but interesting math problem. The participants ask clarifying questions, pose conjectures, invent methods to test conjectures, justify or reject conjectures, again and again, to the eventual ends of generalizing, abstraction,understanding truth, solving problems, and proof. The problems are low-floor, high-ceiling so that students can enter at and progress to varying levels of concepts rooted in advanced mathematics. The leader acts more like a secretary, in a supporting role, as the participants work collaboratively to solve the problem.
The Math Renaissance Math Circle
(formerly Talking Stick Learning Center Math Circle)
The in-person courses will be outdoors, following all CDC-recommended precautions. The outdoor location will be Lovett Park in Mt. Airy in Northwest Philadelphia. We hope to schedule when Lovett Library is open, but the librarians (Miss Marsha and Miss Dana) report that they don’t yet know what their hours will be in the fall. Right now the library is open on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, but will hopefully open more frequently when the academic year begins. Lovett Park is a city park open all day regardless of library hours. We will meet on the library’s covered, open porch during the rain. There is an Acme supermarket across the street with a public restroom if the library is closed during Math Circle.
We are not scheduling any indoor courses unless a participating family requests it, organizes it, follows age-appropriate CDC recommendations, and hosts it in their home. Please contact us if you are interested in doing this.
If you have specific preferences or needs related to locations or scheduling, please contact us.
NOTE: While the MRMC is not a way for students to “get ahead,” all of our activities can be connected to at least one (and usually multiple) math practice Common Core State Standard.
Land acknowledgement: We acknowledge that Math Renaissance works on the unceded Indigenous territory of the Lenni Lenape people, who were and continue to be active stewards of this land. We affirm Indigenous sovereignty and with this Land Acknowledgement pledge our intention to do work that not only does no further harm to Indigenous communities but also benefits Indigenous students.
The Math Renaissance Math Circle has been serving students since 2011. Until then, Philadelphia was the only major US city without a student Math Circle. Our program was founded as an in-person program hosted by Talking Stick Learning Center (TSLC) to provide programming to both homeschoolers and school students. We switched to a virtual program in the spring of 2020. The Math Renaissance Math Circle will resume some in-person courses for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Over the years, we have offered 46 courses: each with 6-13 students enrolled; each course meeting weekly for 6-8 weeks; each session lasting 60-90 minutes. These 46 courses have covered 45 topics – our goal is to never repeat a topic in order to keep the material fresh and exciting for facilitators. We did repeat our Compass Art course at the request of parents; we discovered that it was still a different course because the group dynamic and student math backgrounds were different the second time around. This was no surprise, since the program is student-driven.
In May 2021, TSLC reorganized into a smaller program that currently is not hosting supplemental programs. TSLC has become Harmony Learning Community. The name change reflects not only the reorganization, but also an awakening to the disservice/perniciousness of cultural appropriation. The Talking Stick Math Circle followed Harmony’s lead in renaming our program. Read here for Harmony’s Founding Director Katie O’Connor’s illuminating answer to the question “Why did you change your name?”