Anna Maria D’Ippolito, Brookwood School Math Coordinator and Grade 8 math teacher, has been selected as a finalist for a $10,000 Teacher Innovation Grant from the New York-based, non-profit Character Lab. Her proposal, The Math Patronus: Middle Schoolers Find Bravery to Face Their Math Demons, is a unique approach to supporting middle schoolers’ experience in mathematics, so much so that it propelled her into the final round of the competition. Four winners will be chosen based on online voting between now and March 31, and three more will be chosen by Character Lab staff. To vote for Anna Maria’s project go to https://characterlab.org/teacher-innovation-grant/projects/6 before March 31.
“Many people hear negative inner voices at one time or another that tell them they can't succeed with math. I call those voices ‘Math Demons,’” Anna Maria explains of her project’s impetus. To overcome these demons, students will imagine a creature that will serve as their personalized protector, a Harry Potter inspired ‘Math Patronus,’ which wards off fears and negative attitudes that can discourage them about their ability to do math.”
She continues, saying that within the project, “students will draw this Patronus and describe how its characteristics will help them fight Math Demons. We explore how those characteristics are the students’ own inner strengths, and how they can summon those strengths in tough times. We will post the images in the classroom and refer to them throughout the year, particularly during high-stress times. Armed with the idea of their Math Patronus, students find bravery and persistence to approach potentially stressful, discouraging, or anxiety-provoking situations — perhaps in more areas than math!
“I applied last fall thanks to Grade 7 History teacher Kent Lenci's encouragement, and I am really excited that my project made it to this final round,” she adds. Her goal with the project is to promote “bravery and persistence” in eighth grade math students.
The Character Lab is a nonprofit team of researchers, designers, and educators who are working on a mission to develop, disseminate, and support research-based approaches to character that enable kids to learn and flourish.
This “small team of researchers, designers, and educators” believes “character may matter as much as academics to succeed in life, and that character development can enhance academic performance.” The group supports research and collaboration between educators and scientists toward the end of achieving three things: Discover the ideas and strategies that build character; Translate those good ideas to useful products; Do everything we can to ensure that people who work with students do what the research says is best.