MathPOWER is summer learning program that provides classes based on the material students will learn the next academic year. The program also provides remediation based on material covered in the previous academic year for grades 6 through 10.

Key Takeaways

  • MathPOWER incorporates student choice through their various club options.

  • Small groups within the program allow students to voice their opinions and be heard.

  • Students respond better to fewer options.

  • Relationships between staff and students are crucial to providing student choice.

Q: Does your program utilize student choice in any aspect of the program day? If so, what are the structures in place for how students choose – is it a survey? Show of hands? Etc.?


A: The most explicit way is picking the club activities. The students are asked to write their top five choices, and that tends to go really well. During small group work, the kids have opportunities to do different things within the group. We’re really trying to move our curriculum to be more hands-on, or just engage students in a way different from how they are engaged in the classroom during the academic year.


This allows for students to step up and really do exciting things with the projects. We’re moving towards project-based learning. We also hire certified teachers from area schools and have teaching assistants in the classroom, which allows for a lot of small group work where students are really in charge.

Q: Do you find that students respond better to a few options, or many options?


A: Fewer. From my previous experience, students get overwhelmed by choices sometimes and may not think all the way through what they want. Or when given too many choices, they will go for what initially jumps out at them, and may not really try to understand the differences. So, for example, our club list last year had about 20 different club options. We found that a lot of students didn’t actually read the club descriptions given the length of the list. This year we are reducing the number of clubs and then presenting the information in a different way so that students can really find something that will work for them.


We are still in the process of researching how to best present the information next time around. Our intermediary suggested using software that will automatically make assignments; otherwise it’s a multi-day process. On the first day, clubs would be presented to the students by the TA who would run the club. The TA can verbally give the description of the club and maybe have a couple of examples of the kind of things students would create or do.

Q: In what instance has student choice made your program better?


A: One of the examples I can think of from last year is that one of our eighth-grade teachers had kids create a “math carnival.” He had one of the most behaviorally challenging classes and that was a way to really engage the students by focusing on participation. The students had to choose their groups, they had to choose what the carnival topic was, and then at the end of camp all of the classes rotated through and participated in the math carnival. I think it’s mostly about the relationships built around the students. In a moment of need, an adult can provide the choice for the kids. We are relying more on the staff skills to make that happen.


MathPOWER’s Algebra Plus Summer Academy is a math camp that focuses on students going into grades 6-10. The program provides classes based on the material they will learn the next academic year and remediation based on material that they should have learned before, but based on their scores on their previous tests they haven’t learned yet. Then, in the afternoon, students participate in math-based enrichment activities run by our teaching assistants.