The Edmond Sun


June 20, 2014

SEAS students represent school in math competition

EDMOND — Students in a local school recently joined other nationally-ranked Oklahoma schools in a local math competition which focused on raising test scores among students while decreasing anxiety.   

Five St. Elizabeth Ann Seton students were chosen to represent the school which had solved more than 600,000 math problems in less than nine months ranking them third in the state through the First in Math online program.

The five students joined other students from Oklahoma schools at Rose State College as they competed in a math test given in the form of a video game. In 50 minutes, the 61 students solved 150,000 math problems correctly.

“The cool thing about this competition (at Rose State) is some schools had already closed down for the summer,” said Debra Knight, First in Math online program representative and education consultant.

“First in Math is a dynamic, self-paced, web-based mathematics practice program for students in grades K-8 that has been proven to help students master math skills through the use of game-style activities that provide immediate feedback,” Knight said.

Elementary and middle schools throughout Oklahoma have been participating in the First in Math program this year along with more than 5,000 schools and 1.5 million students nationwide.

Through the First in Math program, students are encouraged and motivated to practice and improve their math skills both during their free time at school and at home throughout the school year,” Knight said. “First in Math is a supplement to curriculum designed to provide the ‘deep practice’ that accelerates mastering the concepts they learn in the classroom and is open to public as well as private schools.

Knight added the First in Math program has already helped millions of students achieve proficiency in basic and advanced math skills in thousands of schools across the country.

“Numerous school districts have seen standardized test results in math improve dramatically as a result of using the program,” Knight said.

The combination of “deep practice” and immediate feedback is the heart of the First in Math program.

“This methodology helps students grasp and understand difficult concepts by breaking them down into manageable segments and providing instant feedback to help them make adjustments to their technique to improve their skills, similar to the way students would receive feedback in the physical realm when playing sports, for example,” Knight said.

The program covers the six foundation skills required for advanced mathematics, including basic facts, fractions, decimals, integers, exponents and order of operations. Students play the wide variety of games — during free time at school and by logging in to play from home — earning virtual stickers that accrue like points to their individual, classroom, school and district-wide score.

“The friendly competition makes for a lively, motivating experience that not only engages students in math practice, but can actually further enhance the overall culture of success at the school,” Knight said.

The First in Math online program is a dynamic, self-paced, web-based mathematics practice program that helps students in grades K-8 master basic through advanced math skills through the use of engaging, exciting game-based activities. Elementary and middle schools throughout Oklahoma have been participating in the First in Math program this year along with more than 5,000 schools and 1.5 million students nationwide.

“Teachers like First in Math’s assessment information, but the students are drawn to it because of the games, the competition and seeing how they rank nationally among their peers. Their excitement is contagious. They’re focused on playing the games simply to earn virtual stickers so it’s always funny to see the surprise on their faces when I tell them how many math problems they’ve solved.”

The Rose State event was hosted by Dr. Wayne Jones, Dean of Engineering and Science at Rose State and sponsored by Max Miller, principal of Greystone Upper Elementary in the Oklahoma City public school system.

Knight said the goal was to bring schools together in a friendly end-of-school math competition and to kick off a summer of fun math practice. Each school selected five students from grades 1-6 to compete and see which school could solve the most math problems in 50 minutes.

Participating schools came from as far away as Tulsa, Lawton and Guthrie to compete even though school had already ended for some of them. Several of the Oklahoma schools who participated are also ranked among the top schools in the country for the First in Math national competition. Among them was St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s second-grade team that ranked 88th  nationally out of 9,700 teams.

Their sponsor, Dean Hoffhines, ranked first in Oklahoma by solving 150,000 problems correctly and sixth in the nation among 12,000 teachers competing.


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