Hi Everyone! I'm a graduate student in math, and this summer I'll be teaching gifted middle-schoolers in a 18-day intensive program in math. I have experience teaching college students, but definitely not young adolescents, and especially not for an extended period of time. Do you have any advice or broad strategies for keeping students engaged for 7 hours a day? Of course I'll do labs and group work, but does any know of any game types or specific activities that work well? Thanks so much for your advice!

Realize that the average 13 year old has a solid attention span of about half an hour. So I'm glad you have lots of time to plan this-- it's going to really require a lot of planning. Any idea of what topics you'll be covering? (What did they cover last year??? Knowing that would be a HUGE help!!!) What materials will you have? One idea they may find cool: you can start with basic Trig (assuming they have access to at least a scientific calculator.) From there you can teach them polar coordinates. The actual math is pretty easy, and you can get a lot of mileage from it. Once they get the basic idea, you can cover a variety of graph types. What I've done with my kids in the past is have them bring in markers, then assign them to come up with 3 or 4 different "roses" on the same graph-- each should have a different radius. It's easy to do, will eat up some time, and they'll have a pretty cool souvineer. Oh, and you can spend some time on the Paradoxes-- Zeno's paradox is the first to come to mind, but there are others. This article someone else posted last night may also inspire you: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-...aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582 Get back to me on possible topics and what resources you'll have, and we'll see what we can come up with.

Hi Alice - thanks so much for taking the time to respond. I really like the idea of covering the paradoxes. I will have a budget of around $60/student to pick resources that I'd like. Right now I have been asked to cover basics from the following problem-solving book. These students are very intelligent, so we are expected to cover a wide range of material. In the past years, some syllabi have covered the following: Proofs and logic, contrapositives, contradiction Divisors, Lowest Common Multiples, and Greatest Common Divisors Addition and Subtraction in different bases and Patterns in remainders (modular arithmetic) Exponentials, Logarithms, and Complex Numbers Spirals, Fibonacci and being a plant. Complex Numbers on planes, vectors, pythagorean theorem, and continuous fractions. Mobius strips and Hexaflexagons Quadratics and completing the square Counting, Pascal’s triangle, Permutations/Combinations Probability Arithmetic means, expected value and binomial probabilities. Properties of a Circle Circle angle theorems Triangles, the strongest of the shapes! Similar and Congruent triangles Sum of the angles in an n-gon Flatland and the meaning of dimensionality I have free range to pick from these topics and include more, but I see no reason to diverge too much from what's in the book.

At which program will you be working? Will they be getting credit for a particular course? Is it a residential program? I've worked for several years at a similar program, and if I knew more about the program, I could help you out more knowing the expectations. I will give you the warning we give our new teachers: Plan what you think you will get through in a day, then plan for another day. You will likely finish all of that content on the first day, and possibly cover more. They move faster than you would ever imagine! It looks like the book you were given focuses on problem solving strategies. Likely, the students will be competitive, and will enjoy some competition. But, be prepared that some of them may have never been in direct competition with other gifted students before and will not be used to losing.

To clarify, I will have the students for 6 hours a day. I will have a teaching assistant. The program is Duke TIP. The students will not be getting any credit - it is a pure learning experience. They live on-campus. I plan to use a lot of games, and right now I know of math kickball, proof competitions, and Grudge Ball. Do you all know of any other games or ways to infuse competition into a classroom?

At Duke TIP, the courses are usually focused around a single subject so that they can receive high school credit. I work for a satellite program. While games are important, you need to make sure the work is very rigorous. Parents are spending several thousand dollars to send their kids there, and if the academic program is not up to standards, then no one will be happy. Also, while most of your students will master the material quickly, have a plan for when you have a student who isn't naturally good at math. Because you will have some of those. What are the prerequisites for your course? What is the course title? I ask because where I work, most of the science courses and math courses other than Algebra I have Algebra I as a prerequisite. Will your students have had it? Generally, it is expected that our instructors will complete either a year's worth of high school material or a semester of college material with our students. Before you get too far along with your planning, I'd find out what your students will know. It looks like TIP has changed their format a bit, and no longer offers the traditional courses for credit, so it could be very different now.

Thanks for your response! Students will have had Algebra I. The course is called Math Problem Solving. Students had to have scored at a certain threshold on the SAT quantitative section; they also have to want to spend all day at a math camp (i.e. math should be their favorite subject).

Yes, it should be their favorite subject. What I'm telling you is that there will be students there for whom that is not the case. There is a tremendous amount of pressure in parts of the gifted community, and it leads to students sometimes being places in courses that are not the best fit for them. It's good that they will have all had Algebra I. You can at least count on them to have those skills. (I know that to score high enough on the math section they should have to have Algebra I anyway, but I was a TIP kid who guessed lucky enough on the ACT to earn state recognition for my math score in 7th grade without having any algebra at all. My mom taught me how to solve things like 2x+4=20 on the way to the test in the car.) Luckily, your TA will have gone through all kinds of training in dealing with classroom management, behavior management, counseling issues that may come up, etc. (At least, I assume they will. It seems that Duke has made many changes to the program, so I'm not sure what the training is like anymore. I also know that their residential program is very different from ours...) You are going to have a blast with this! There's a reason I went to a TIP program for three years as a student, and why I've been working for one for over 13 years now. These programs change lives!

Thanks again for your input. I now recognize that there will definitely be students who have parents who force their students in to the camp. I'm still going to try and make it as engaging as possible. I'm a huge Harry Potter geek, and since I'll have 16 students, I think I'll have them compete for the House Cup over the course of the 3 weeks. Is it ok if I send you my syllabus for your feedback in a few weeks?

Totally off-topic, but this made me smile--my mom taught me the night before when I was flipping through the sample test questions in my instruction packet and realized that I had no idea what that meant!

I would set up a daily routine - then just mix up what you do for each segment. Like when you break up a 90 min class period (bellringer, read aloud, anticipation activity, direct instruction, practice, assessment, ticket to leave) - you can have a daily routine similar but of course the activities will take longer)