Teachers find creative ways to celebrate student mathematical achievement.
Coming out of the pandemic, Elvia Uriostegui, Instructional Math Coach at Edith Smith Middle School in Waukegan, Illinois, saw an opportunity to re-engage students and accelerate their learning with MATHia, a personalized math tutoring software.
We loved learning about the creative incentives Uriostegui and her team put in place to motivate the kids. Here are some of the inventive ways they’ve gotten students excited about math!
Wall of Fame
When students complete the MATHia program, their pictures go on a Wall of Fame, a bulletin board styled after the Hollywood Walk of Fame. So many students have completed the program that a second bulletin board had to be added! When a student is inducted into the Wall of Fame, they receive a medal, certificate, and other goodies.
“They compete with each other, and they love being recognized for all their efforts,” Uriostegui shares.
While Uriostegui enjoys celebrating the highest MATHia achievers, she knows it’s important to reach all kids, especially those struggling or thinking they aren’t good at math.
Enter Marty the MATHia monster.
Every month, students who demonstrate that they’re developing as mathematical thinkers are recognized as mathletes and awarded prizes, certificates, and ice cream.
“Something that we do here is to focus on eight mathematical practices put in place in the classrooms,” explains Uriostegui. “These practices encourage students to reason abstractly and quantitatively, make sense and persevere in solving problems, and use math discourse. So when teachers see students exhibiting these behaviors, they get rewarded monthly.”
It Takes a Village
In her quest to help all learners thrive, Uriostegui has called on school and community support to cheer students on and celebrate a job well done. As a Title I school, Edith Smith Middle School has been buoyed by local businesses that have shown their support.
“We’ve had Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen, along with little gadgets from the school. Our local Culver’s donates ice cream, and People’s Choice–a kind of arcade–donates free tokens. So we do little things like that to help motivate our kids, and we’ve seen lots of success with it,” Uriostegui shares.
Students also regularly get celebrated with community-sponsored pizza parties, luncheons, doughnut breaks, and ice cream socials when they meet their learning goals. Carnegie Learning even got in on the action and helped sponsor an end-of-year donut and ice cream party!
The Future is Bright
All these great incentives have paid off. Edith Smith Middle School went from last in the district in MATHia usage last year to second this year–a huge accomplishment! Plus, many students have reached 75% mastery of grade-level content. “Next year, more students will hit 100% mastery,” Uriostegui confidently states.
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