February 15, 2010

Second Grade Teachers Successfully Improve Math Scores Using Online Games

Filed under: February 2010 — mbrown @ 7:25 pm

Mrs. Smeltz, a second grade teacher at Bonfield Elementary school, was unhappy with the quiz scores her students were receiving in math. Students had been working on addition facts for several weeks and were being given quizzes three out of every four days. Each student was to complete 30 addition problems in 90 seconds with the goal of each student receiving 80 percent or higher.
For some reason, the students were not progressing as she and the other second-grade teachers would have liked. This issue was discussed during a brainstorming session as to what they could do to improve test scores. Mrs. Smeltz had heard about a math computer program called Mad Minute that sounded interesting, but unfortunately the program was only available to try for a limited time each month and could not be loaded onto multiple computers during the free trial.

With limited funds, she decided to try to find another option. While searching online she stumbled upon Arcademic Skill Builders http://arcademicskillbuilders.com . “Just what I was looking for … basic repeated practice of the addition facts in a fun, exciting way!” said Mrs. Smeltz.

She decided to introduce Jet Ski Addition to the class using an LCD projector to project it onto a screen. The students were very excited to try it. She bookmarked the Web site on the three classroom computers and students could hardly wait for their turn! The classroom computers suddenly became quite a distraction for the class.

The students enjoyed the game so much they wanted to be able to play it at home. Mrs. Smeltz sent out a note to parents with the Web address and a brief description of the Web site. She then decided to use the site during her class time in the computer lab. Many students were playing it at home by this point and were very familiar so the class time was a perfect time for kids who didn’t have computers at home to have the extra support from other students to build their addition skills while learning how to play the game.

Because Arcademic Skill Builders is set up in such a way that no user information is stored, allowing students to play safely without being traced by outside users, her class needed to figure out a way to know they were playing against one of their own classmates. They decided to add their classroom number to their “secret names” so they would know they were playing someone in their own class.

The names turned out to be an excellent option for students who wanted to play against a classmate but still remain anonymous. Mrs. Smeltz’s students enjoyed the game so much they decided to share it with the three other second-grade classrooms in their building.

Students used their “secret names” followed by classroom numbers so they knew they were playing kids from their own school. “Suddenly indoor recess became an exciting Jet Ski race across the hall!” says Mrs. Smeltz.

In just a few days everyone, from the recess and computer aides to the teachers, was playing Jet Ski Addition, competing with each other and the students each night. Teachers were hearing excited chatter in the classrooms, such as: “I played Jet Ski for two hours last night!”,  “Mrs. Smeltz, I beat you last night!”, and “What time will you be on tonight?”  The enthusiasm was felt by teachers as well as students, and there was even positive feedback from many parents.

More importantly, the second grade teachers accomplished their goal. Test scores improved significantly in just 10 days!

Here are the scores:

February 19

14 out of 24 children passed with 80 percent or higher; 9 had 100 percent

February 29

20 out of 24 children passed with 80 percent or higher; 14 had 100 percent

One student went from a score of 63 percent to 100 percent. Two students went from 77 percent to 90 percent. One student went from 57 percent to 73 percent. Even the lowest student went from 47 percent to 67 percent.

The students keep track of their own scores on a chart each time they take a quiz and were very excited to see how their test scores had improved. Jet Ski Addition was instrumental in these improvements in scores. The new multi-player games currently include Grand Prix Multiplication, Jet Ski Addition, and Drag Race Division. A subtraction game is currently in the works.

There are also a large variety of single player games for students to work on skills such as multiplication, addition, subtraction, spelling, state capitals, identifying word types (ie. pronouns, nouns, verbs), choosing correct verb tenses, subject/verb agreement, and more! Visit http://arcademicskillbuilders.com to get started!

This article is a summary of an article written by Laura Smeltz, Second Grade teacher.

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