After only working at my school for three short years, it has become abundantly clear that a large portion of the students in my school struggle with basic math skills. Students entering my third grade classroom struggle with basic skills, including adding and subtracting single digits (without counting it out on their fingers) as well as skip counting, skills which are necessary to teach third grade skills that include multiplication. My in-class observations about math are backed up by the results of the MAP test (Measures of Academic Progress). While most students make growth between tests, many score below grade level. Because of this, it is often necessary to spend extra time working on basic skills before moving onto grade level material. Reteaching the basics also causes problems as there are always a few students who have mastered the basics and are ready to move on to the grade level material.
One part of the solution to the math problem is to find a tool that will allow students to work on skills that are appropriate to their level of need. One such program is called “First in Math” by Suntex, the makers of the 24 Game. The program is an online based set of games and activities that teach skills ranging from basic number skills to advanced algebraic equations. As students complete activities and master skill, they earn “stickers” for themselves, and in turn their team (class). The students can view their stickers and class’ stickers compared to students and classes from around the country. In addition, each class has a “Player of the Day”, “Player of the Week”, and “Player of the Month”. There is also a “Team of the Week” award for the class earning the most stickers per student. With all of the opportunities for recognition, many of the students are motivated to play. In addition to the awards, the games are genuinely fun, making learning math more enjoyable.
One issue to consider with implementing an online based program is the availability of internet access at students’ homes. Before starting this program however, a survey was sent home to determine the level of access that the students had. Surprisingly, only one of the students in my class of 29 did not have access to the internet at any point after school. It was also important to consider the level to which other teachers would support use of the program. With all of the things a teacher is expected to do in a day, would this be too overwhelming? It turns out, no! The program requires very little action from the teacher. Other than checking to see who the Player of the Day is, there is very little extra work required from the teacher. Teachers can put more time into it if it is something they would like to focus on, but the program can be successful with only minimal teacher motivation and/or time. To make the program the most effective, teachers can view reports showing the skills that students have struggled on, those they have mastered, and those on which they are working.
I'm Edie - wife, mom, teacher, instructional designer, home renovator,
and lover of nature, travel, technology, and vintage campers!