03/25/13 Plymouth High School graduate Katie Day has never forgotten how teacher Diane Lyons was able to have several different students in her special education classes, all working on different projects, and all having success. Day, who graduated in 2008, volunteered inLyon’s class during her senior year in high school. Now Day is using the inspiration she got from her experiences with her own second grade class inCharleston, S. C.
Day graduated fromButlerUniversityin 2012 with degrees in political science and journalism that she had once envisioned to use to pursue a law degree. However, after being recruited by Teach For America, she has now found her passion in teaching.
Teach For America searches for top students atUnited Statesuniversities/colleges and trains them to work in school systems that have been identified as under–resourced schools in both urban and rural settings. TFA teachers must make a two-year commitment.
Day said, “I have some students who are working at a kindergarten level and others who can do fifth grade work. I needed to “level the playing field”. She applied for and received a year-long grant for a Reflex Math program. She spent several hours during the winter break to set up the computer based program and started using it with her students the second week of January. Day said, “In 9 weeks, they have gone from being 7 percent fluent in 0-10 addition and subtraction to 49 percent fluent; and that percentage is actually low because my three highest students are currently working to become fluent in 0-10 multiplication and division.” Fluent means that students are able to record the correct answer to a problem in less than three seconds.
To access the program, students are initially tested in order for the computer to gauge how fluent they are before starting the work. Day said, “For most of my students, the testing phase lasted from the first three log-ins to the first ten.” “During the first log-in, students can create an “avatar” that represents them throughout their duration with the program.” Day said. She added, “Their motivation is to become fluent in their facts in order to play-unlock games, buy things for their avatar and plant a tree of growth.”
Day said, “All of my students are able to find success within the program because it not only quizzes students on facts until they become fluent, but it also teaches them facts they don’t know. They are not allowed to play games until they have learned at least one new fact family each log-in.” Kids are able to access the program from other computers both in and out of school. Day said, “I have kids who log-in on their mom’s phones.”
Since the grant is for a one-year period, students can continue to log-in over the summer and Day can use it until the end of December.
She said, “I am allowed to use the program with 30 students and since I only have 20 in my class, I also use it with my 10 after-school tutoring third graders.”
Day said, “As a teacher, its’ a great felling to know I’m not only making my students more successful second graders, but I’m also making them more successful in every subsequent grade.” “Reflex Math has made it possible for me to watch my students become more confident in the academic abilities. It’s an awesome felling.”
Carol Anders Correspondent