The Sampson County Board of Education got a math lesson during its board meeting earlier this week.
At the request of superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker, Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School AIG teacher Rhonda Wooten, sixth-grade math teacher Pandora Matthews, and seventh-graders Sarah Wallace Strickland and Skylar Stephens gave a presentation to the board on Perennial Math, an online math competition the school participated in this year for the first time.
Wooten shared with the board that Perennial Math competitions are available to third through eighth grade students. However, at RSMS, only sixth and seventh grade AIG students participated in the intermediate and advanced competitions this first year.
A total of 47 students took part — 17 sixth-graders and 30 seventh-graders — Wooten later reported.
“Although sixth and seventh graders did it, I think the seventh graders enjoyed it more. Because they are a little more mature, they had more drive,” said Wooten. “They’re also a pretty competitive group.”
The competitions involve four test per school year which are taken monthly from November to February. Students have 30 minutes to solve six word problems which usually require two to three steps to solve and they cannot use a calculator.
While the tests can be taken with paper and pencil, RSMS chose to have their students take the online version. “That way you get immediate results,” explained Wooten noting that she and other teachers would have to grade the tests if they were done with paper and pencils which would add to their workload and require students to wait a few days before receiving their test results. “Students know how they did immediately and can go back right then and look at the ones they missed.”
According to Wooten, these challenging math competitions help to develop the students’ higher level problem solving skills and can help students earn higher test scores.
“It really pushes them outside the box beyond what they are learning in the classroom,” Wooten noted when contacted later for additional comments.
Despite it being their first year participating in Perennial Math competitions, RSMS students performed very well.
“Since this was our first year doing Perennial Math, I thought we would just be getting used to it, getting our feet wet. I had no idea we would place, let alone win,” marveled Wooten. “We compete against schools across the U.S. and we placed in the top 10 percent so we received a plaque for that. We also had two students place the highest in their grade levels - sixth grader Blake Williams and seventh grader Seth Bass. They received medals for their high scores.”
Wooten added that Bass had answered all six questions correctly on three of the four monthly tests. “On the last test, he missed one but only one which is amazing.”
Students who answered at least five out of the six questions correctly get their names added the Perennial Math’s online Wall of Fame which Wooten said the children had enjoyed seeing.
After Wooten explained Perennial Math to the board, students Strickland and Stephens demonstrated how the competition works, solving a word problem as the board watched.
After describing the steps taken to solve the problem, Strickland and Stephens revealed the answer.
“That’s what I got too,” remarked chairman Telfair Simpson, drawing a laugh from those present at the meeting.
“I wanted to bring the kids into it (the meeting) because it’s more exciting when the kids are involved,” said Wooten. “And they’re the ones working so hard at these competitions and it’s their hard work that is earning the high scores.”
Wooten shared that the Strickland and Stephens enjoyed the opportunity to present to the board. “The kids loved it. We were all a little nervous beforehand but we felt really good afterwards. I think we gave the board members a good idea of the great things we are doing in our schools and I think they found the kids inspiring.”
As Wooten, Matthews, Strickland, and Stephens concluded their presentation and returned to their seats, the board and meeting attendees gave them a round of applause as Simpson called it a “wonderful presentation.”
As this school year winds down, Wooten shared that RSMS plans to continue participating in Perennial Math competitions in the future.
“It’s an excellent program and we’re so glad that we got involved. We’re planning to continue it next year, incorporating it our accelerated math program,” said Wooten. “This was our first year and it was kind of trial and error. Next year, we will be more prepared. We just hope to keep getting better and better. We want to be the best we can be.”
For more information about Perennial Math, please visit their website at www.perennialmath.com.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.