NEWARK — Thanks to students in Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES’ “Business Ventures TOO” program in Phelps, Lincoln School classrooms are getting some large and colorful new tools to help students build their speed and accuracy skills in math.
Since early September, students in Marcia Vaiana’s “Business Ventures TOO” (Transitioning Onto Occupations) classes have been making rekenreks, commonly known as an abacus.
This partnering endeavor has added up to be a win, win situation for both Lincoln’s Pre-K through second grade pupils and the 18-21-year-olds in the “Business Ventures Too” program.
All of the Lincoln School classrooms will soon be equipped with large rekenreks, big enough to be readily seen as teachers use them in math group activities designed to help reinforce skills in the new math modules.
“Business Ventures Too” teacher Marcia Vaiana said building the rekenrek’s provided an opportunity for her students to figure out how to build them; research where to purchase needed materials online; precisely measure and cut wood for the frames; stain the wood; measure and cut wire for the beads; and assemble everything.
Vaiana said her students have learned a lot of new skills and enjoyed the work in the process, especially since they knew the rekenreks were being made to help Lincoln School children.
Because the project has proven so beneficial to both sides, “Business Ventures Too” is donating the 13 rekenreks they are making to the school.
That’s really good news to Lincoln Principal Jeff Hamelinck who checked into purchasing large rekenreks last spring, but found them to be prohibitively expensive.
After Lincoln Kindergarten teacher Martha Groot purchased an older and larger abacus in an antique shop and brought it to school, other teachers wanted one for their classes to use in addition to much smaller ones.
At a spring PTA meeting, Lincoln School monitor Tony Comella suggested someone could build them. Hamelinck turned to Tony’s wife, Elise Comella, who is the Lincoln School PTA treasurer and the Newark Education Center Principal for BOCES in the NCSD, and asked her if she knew anyone in the Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES who could make them.
Comella did. She approached Vaiana with the idea and she thought it would be a great project for her students.
Hamelinck delivered one of the newly-built rekenreks to Groot’s classroom Sept. 27 and students seemed as excited about their new acquisition as their principal is.
Later, when asked about how they are using their rekenrek, Ashton Coleman said: “We learn to count.”
Caleb Coleman said the class was using it to “learn numbers.” Dante Shahan said the class “made pictures about it.”
The class drew pictures of various numbers of beads on the rekenrek and matched them with the corresponding number.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with how this partnership worked out,’’ Hamelinck said. “The students and teachers at Lincoln School received an instructional tool to help them grow as learners and the students in the “Business Ventures TOO” class benefited from learning the process of deconstructing a model, ordering materials, and building a product to fit the needs of the future user. What a great example of two school programs working together to improve student learning.”
Elise Comella agreed with Hamelinck.
“It’s been a great learning opportunity for our students and it’s nice to develop partnerships with other schools.”