How many sixth graders would volunteer to complete 1,000 math problems? Well, at St. Rose of Lima School, 36 students did, competing in a Sumdog online contest against other Rhode Island students. Four of them ended up in the top 10 out of the 1,007 students competing.
Sixth grade math teacher Mary Morse discovered Sumdog, a free, online math enrichment tool for students, earlier this year. She signed up her sixth graders for the program, which they complete on their free time. Based on Common Core standards, students create an avatar to play through various levels of math problems. Each level is represented by a different animal; the more endangered the animal, the tougher the level.
Once she saw how interested many of her students were and how safe the site was, Morse allowed her students to compete in contests run by the site. Students complete a series of problems over a week to see how their scores stack up against not only each other but also students around the globe. After competing in an international contest, Morse saw a contest for West Bay area schools.
“I said, let’s see how we stack up against other Rhode Island schools,” she said.
They stacked up pretty well. Thirty-six of her 41 sixth graders took part in the contest, which required them to complete 1,000 math problems in one week; many of them finished in a matter of days.
“It’s competitive, very motivating,” said Morse of the program.
Not only did the school finish in fourth place out of 20, but four of the students placed in the top 10. Will Walaska ranked fourth, followed by David Gravino in sixth, Haley Besse in seventh and Maddy Pike in eighth. Because of their top 10 finishes, the four students received special certificates from Sumdog.
“They used every available minute,” said Morse, who allows her students to compete in contests every few weeks. “To see students so excited about academics is so great.”
Not only does Sumdog allow the students to practice their math skills, but because it is an international site they also learn new vocabulary words from other parts of the world.