Math for Early Learners Academy (MELA)

A pilot program sponsored by Baylor School of Education’s Department of Curriculum & Instruction, MELA aims to impact math understanding in pre-kindergarten children in Waco.

The brainchild of Dr. Sandi Cooper, professor in math education, the four-week MELA camp started in July of 2016 and targets 4-5 year olds who are entering kindergarten and need help building number sense, based on assessments. 

MELA focuses on building number concepts that will propel children for success in math down the road. The curriculum includes lots of counting exercises, using a variety of technologies both new (iPads) and traditional (playdough). In addition, students delved into early number concepts such as one-to-one correspondence and one-more-than or one-less-than. Cooper said the instructors also taught subitizing (visual representations of numbers, such as dominoes) and unitizing (skip counting).

In its first year, the program served about 17 students from Brook Avenue Elementary in Waco ISD. Working with one school facilitates the follow-up with students to collect research data, Cooper said. A research team — led by SOE assistant professor Dr. Lakia Scott,and including doctoral candidates Keith Kerschen and Ryann Shelton and, and master’s student Kylie Terry — is works in tandem with the instructors during the summer and conducts assessments in the school later. Research findings could magnify the program’s impact.

“We plan to follow them at least until third grade,” Cooper said. “I want to investigate how enhanced experiences with building early number sense makes a difference. If we have data showing this kind of intervention helps children, maybe schools would embrace the idea and offer this kind of program themselves.”

See more photos from 2016 MELA in the School of Education Facebook album.