The Edmond Sun


June 17, 2014

SEAS students, faculty member, place in FIM national contest

EDMOND — St. Elizabeth Ann Seton students and  a faculty member placed in the national First in Math program.

Dean Hoffhines, religion teacher, answered about 150,000 problems correctly to rank sixth nationally ahead of more than 12,000 teachers while the school’s second-graders solved almost 600,000 math problems in national competition ranking them 89th out of 9,773 teams.

Second-grade teachers were Donna Holmes and Sharon Lieurance.

“I had a strategy in place for answering the problems,” Hoffhines said, which included answering the more detailed problems first.

He said he also credits his number of correct answers to the time involvement he had in working the problems.

“Involvement of time is the thing that makes it work for me,” Hoffhines said. “I have an interest in math even though I no longer teach it. Part of my recreation is video or card games on the computer, and I substituted the time I would have played those for working math problems for First in Math.”

Hoffhines said some of the math problems were really complex and there are definitely some prodigies in the United States.

“I have an admiration for a sixth-grader who, for the third year in a row, has been the top student in the United States,” Hoffhines said. She completed all the modules and got the maximum number of correct answers for a total of about 180,000 problems.”

Hoffhines said the main thing about working the math problems is the constant practice the students have. The more they practice, they start to see connections and begin to approach problems differently.

“If they just work with the drill and practice, the problems help them understand and perform advanced skills,” Hoffhines said.  

Because of budget cuts, St. Elizabeth students will not have FIM next school year unless private funding is made available.

Hoffhines said he would like to see First in Math continue in the school for a few more years.

“I would like to see how the students track compared to students who don’t participate in FIM,” Hoffhines said. “It just makes sense to me that the students engaged in the FIM program should score higher in math.”

He said he was looking forward to see how the students who were taking the test in first and second grade would score as seventh and eighth-graders.

“Even with my seventh-graders, they do fine on whole numbers and they should know decimals and fractions, but they don’t,” Hoffhines said. “As a nation we are horrible. There just is not enough practice. This is one thing that would help to address that.”



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