Middle School Hosts ‘Survivor Math Challenge’
The D.C. Everest (DCE) Middle School hosted its first annual “Survivor Math Challenge” – an outdoor event in which teams of students competed with one another to solve order-of-operations math problems before completing a variety of physical contests.
That enthusiasm was the impetus for an intense brainstorming session by the DCE Middle School math teachers that led to the “Survivor Math Challenge.” Students were divided into teams of six. Each half of the team competed in math duels against other teams, each having to solve an algebraic mathematical expression by using the correct order of operations: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction (otherwise known by the acronym PEMDAS). Once all three students had completed their equation, math instructors reviewed their answers. “We told them how many answers were correct, but not which were correct,” noted Schommer. “This encouraged them to work as a team to review one another’s work and make the necessary corrections.” The event was inspired by the “Propellerheads” Immunity Challenge, from the eighteenth season of the television show Survivor,™ in which the contestants must memorize a series of math symbols and then solve an equation. “Students watched the episode and realized the equation was solved incorrectly,” notes Mark Schommer, DCE Math Coordinator and Math Teacher. “The contestant who wins the challenge does not use the correct order of operations – he simply solves the problem from left to right. The students loved watching the video and figuring out the correct way to solve the equation.”
Once they had correctly solved all the equations, the three students moved on to a series of physical challenges, just as contestants do in Survivor™. Challenges included puzzle-like cup stacking, tunnel races and the cookie challenge – an event in which the student had to move a cookie from her forehead to mouth without the use of hands. After all team members competed, each team had to create a mathematical expression that produced the correct solution using a set of pre-determined numbers – this problem required collaboration and creativity.
The event was a huge success. “It was interesting to watch students work individually and in groups to solve these math problems while competing against the clock and one another. Their teammates were going wild – loudly cheering them on. They were having fun while doing algebra – that’s a big win for us,” stated Schommer.
Wendy Torgerson, a math teacher at the DCE Middle School, agreed. “As we wrapped up the game and walked into the building, students were still talking about the problems! Heading to another class still debating different strategies to solve math problems is not something you see every day.” she laughed.
Kollross named NFHS Girls Soccer Coach of the Year
Congratulations to D.C. Everest (DCE) Girls’ Soccer varsity coach Lucas Kollross who was selected by the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association (WSCA) as the NFHS Coaches Association Girls Soccer Coach of the Year for Wisconsin.
Below are highlights from Coach Kollross’ 15 years as the DCE Girls’ Soccer varsity head coach:
DCE Athletic Director Lee Ann Kitchell notes, “On behalf of the D.C. Everest Athletic Department and D.C. Everest Senior High School, we would like to congratulate Coach Lucas Kollross on this amazing and well-deserved award. His years of development, investment and commitment to the Everest Girls’ Soccer program have benefitted many young women in our school. It is an honor to see Coach Kollross recognized at the state – and potentially regional or national – level for his work with our student-athletes.”
As a recipient of the state award, Coach Kollross will be considered for NFHS Sectional recognition. National Coaches of the Year are then chosen from the sectional winners.
Weston Elementary ‘beats the odds’ to earn state recognition
Weston Elementary was one of 173 Wisconsin Title I schools recently recognized by State Superintendent Tony Evers for its success in helping students from low-income families excel academically. As Evers noted, “These awards recognize work by students and their parents along with teachers, school administrators, and school staff members to break the link between poverty and low academic achievement.”
Title I schools are those that receive federal aid because they have a significant number of students from low-income families. Weston Elementary was recognized as a “Beating the Odds School” because of its above-average student achievement in reading and mathematics and for being in the top 25 percent of high-poverty schools in Wisconsin.
Fritz Lehrke, Principal at Weston Elementary, notes there are several reasons for the students’ – and thus the school’s – success. “We’ve focused on the students and their academics, identifying what students need and then working to find the best way to provide that instruction.” He adds, “The key to this process has been the staff at Weston Elementary. They have taken the lead in trying to help our students and have been ahead of the curve in many of these initiatives. They go out of their way to support the families in need and those whose students are English Language Learners. The PTO has also been a great resource,” he concludes.
On October 13, 2014, Principal Lehrke will receive a plaque at an awards ceremony held at the State Capitol. The school will also receive $500 in recognition of its efforts.
Congratulations to the students, families, teachers and staff of Weston Elementary!
Sarah Trimner Named Wisconsin State Finalist for Nation’s Highest Science and Math Teachers Award
Congratulations to Sarah Trimner who was chosen by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction selection committee as a Wisconsin State Finalist for the 2014 Presidential Awards for Excellence for Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The PAEMST awards are recognized as the nation’s highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science.
In order to be considered for the award, Sarah – who is currently a third-grade teacher at Mountain Bay Elementary School – had to submit an extensive written and video application. Sarah notes, “I am dedicated to helping every student learn mathematics in a manner best suited to them. I spend a lot of time on preparation – differentiating how I can present information in multiple ways for all of my students. I continuously research new and interesting ways to present mathematics to my students, so I sought to demonstrate that in my application: engaging instruction that takes into consideration the unique ways in which each child learns.”
In the video submission, Sarah demonstrated a lesson in which students were introduced to key geometry terms through a variety of hands-on methods. Students began by working in small groups to make “models” of rays, parallel lines and points with everyday objects. Then students were challenged to “bring these geometric terms to life,” working in small groups to brainstorm creative ways to demonstrate the concepts. Next students participated in differentiated practice sessions – some students worked on connecting maps and the specific terms, other students went on a scavenger hunt to find geometric examples. Finally, students ended the lesson by completing their daily written and verbal reflection of the concepts covered that day.
The video submission was a success, earning her recognition from the state of Wisconsin and entrance into the national finals. A national selection committee appointed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will now review her submission. The Director of NSF will then recommend up to two finalists in mathematics and science from each state to the White House Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. National awardees will be notified by the White House and will receive a $10,000 award from NSF and an all-expense paid trip for two to Washington D.C., to attend a series of ceremonies.
Notes Sarah, “I want to teach children to be lifelong learners, so I have to do the same – try to learn something new every day. I’m committed to collaborating with my co-workers and other teachers around the nation. I am thankful for the opportunity to brainstorm great ideas with groups of people and extremely lucky to work with an amazing third grade team including Peg Bindl and Josh Jensen.”
Do you know of a D.C. Everest mathematics, science or computer science teacher you feel is worthy of recognition? Nominate a teacher now!
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