New game-based software to help GCSC math students

Monday, November 4, 2019

A new, fun tool is now at the disposal of Greencastle teachers trying to teach math facts to struggling students.

Drawing the attention of Greencastle School Board members back to low math scores exhibited by Greencastle High School 10th-graders, GCSC Curriculum Director Jennifer French said it is not a problem that begins in high school.

“Low high school math scores are not a high school problem,” French said. “They are a K-12 problem.”

French said math struggles often begin early in the education process, with students not learning basic math facts. As the students falls behind, new math skills are added to the curriculum and the struggling students fall further behind, having to expend vital time and mental energy on basic problems rather than on more advanced problem solving.

Citing data that suggests that 75 percent of fifth-graders in the nation have not mastered their basic math facts, French put forth that what the students need to master are whole number fluency, fraction fluency and geometry/measurement aspects.

With this, French introduced Imagine Math Facts, which utilizes game-based 3D software to teach and reinforce basic math facts to students.

“Kids really love it,” French said. “They ask to play it during recess.”

She was asked by board member Russell Harvey why there are such struggles with math facts.

French said her theory is that in the past, Indiana didn’t really emphasize basic math standards in its standardized testing, so such lessons were de-emphasized.

French said the software will be rolled out in Greencastle Schools next week as a supplement to the math curriculum already in place.

Following up on a recent discussion before the Greencastle City Council, audience member Wayne Lewis asked about the reasons that Greencastle has only about 30 percent of students signing up for the Indiana 21st Century Scholars program, while the other three county school districts are in the 80-90 percent range.

The program provides full tuition and fees paid for students who meet the program requirements and whose families qualify for free and reduced lunches.

Superintendent Jeff Hubble said one problem is getting parents of middle school students to already think about college. Students must sign up by June 30 of their eighth-grade year.

“I know the difficulty of giving parents “information about college in seventh and eighth grade,” Hubble said, drawing on his past experience as a middle school principal.

He added that some families do not like sharing the income information the program requires.

Greencastle Middle School Principal Scott Weltz said counselors at the middle school have emphasized the program and work hard to try and get families to fill out the forms.

Weltz added that there is a new local program, EDGE 21, that is working to promote 21st Century scholars and to incentivize getting students to sign up.

The question remained, though, as to why it’s working in other local schools and not yet in Greencastle.

Weltz said the partnership with EDGE 21 was still a new one and some logistics were being worked out. However, he seemed hopeful that the numbers would be increasing in the coming years.

In other business:

-The board formally adopted a resolution to move forward with a $750,000 general obligation bond.

A general obligation bond uses equity the corporation has built up rather than collateral.

With the money, school administrators hope to fund a number of projects across the various buildings of the corporation, such as technology and communication upgrades including a new district phone system to replace the outdated current system, as well as new computer servers.

Additionally, the projects are set to include middle school gym floor and bleacher replacement, public address systems for the high school and Ridpath, tuck pointing at the high school and Deer Meadow, multiple pieces of floor cleaning and maintenance equipment, concession stand plumbing, Tzouanakis library lights, water heaters at the middle and high schools, a pool heater at McAnally, an east side roll-up door at McAnally, replacement of district radios and keyless entry and card reader systems at Tzouanakis, Ridpath and Deer Meadow.

It will replace a bond that is about to expire, meaning it will not increase property taxes.

“It’s in no way increasing the tax rate,” Hubble said. “It’s keeping the tax rate the same.”

As part of the resolution, the corporation will not accept an interest rate higher than five percent, though Hubble expects it to be even lower.

-The board accepted five donations totaling $10,250 to the corporation, including $2,500 from Crossroads Communications Solutions to the GHS book club, $1,250 from Myers’ Market to GHS athletics, $5,000 from an anonymous donor to the GMS Burning Lady Fund, $1,000 from the Mary Allison Children’s Trust to the Tzouanakis Tiger Packs program and a $500 MAC Grant from McDonald’s Owner-Operators of Central Indiana to the GHS business program.

“I do think it’s impressive we just received over $10,000 worth of grants,” board member Brian Cox said.

-The board approved a trip to St. Louis for the Greencastle High School choir program. The incentive trip will take place May 1-3, 2020.

-The board also approved a number of personnel items.

Resignations: Pam Bacon as GHS media specialist (effective June 1, 2020), LeShan Fitzsimmons as GMS in-school suspension instructional assistant, Dale Moore as GHS custodian.

Retirement: Mary Vermillion as GMS cafeteria assistant.

New hires: Adrenia Waugh, Deer Meadow preschool instructional assistant, Tammy Shafer as GHS secretary to principal, Donald Rumley as GHS custodian, Sophia Mosley and Erin Mitchell as 21st Century Community Learning Center instructional assistant at GMS.

Transfers: Lisa Torrence from instructional assistant to media assistant at Deer Meadow, Melinda Short from instructional assistant to in-school suspension instructional assistant at GMS, Karen Phillips and Natasha Boles from substitute to full-time bus drivers.

Substitutes: Dennisse Crossman and Kenneth Pell as substitute teachers, Tonya Geldmeier as substitute bus driver, Wesley Stone as substitute cafeteria assistant.

Extracurricular activities: Kent Menzel, GHS boys’/girls’ head swim coach; Shane Thomas, GHS head wrestling coach; Amy Coons, GHS head softball coach; Kyle Shafer, GMS assistant wrestling coach; Diana Myers, GMS boys’/girls’ head swim coach; Tanner Nicholson, seventh-grade boys’ basketball coach; Drew Asbell and Travis Nicholson, seventh/eighth-grade volunteer boys’ basketball coach; Parker Aul, junior varsity boys’ basketball coach; Ben Wells, C-team boys’ basketball coach; Anthony Jones, GHS volunteer assistant boys’ basketball coach; Naima Shifa, GMS volunteer assistant math counts sponsor.

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    You don't need fancy math games... you need to teach the kids how to do math. The right way.

    Common Core (or its different-in-name-only Indiana counterpart) is a complete disaster for teaching math.

    Shame on the educators, bureaucrats, and politicians who laid this albatross around our students' necks.

    Fix the actual problem and get back to teaching math correctly and you will be surprised at how much better math scores get.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Tue, Nov 5, 2019, at 8:11 AM
  • Go back to teaching basic math the way it used to be taught and you will be amazed at the difference. Why put so many unnecessary steps when not needed!!

    -- Posted by Rainbow6 on Tue, Nov 5, 2019, at 8:55 AM
  • When a top 5% former student, who excelled in math, can’t help their own child with the new math...there is a problem. If Joe has 9 apples and Jane has 4, they collectively have 13. why must we.... 10 - 1 & 3 + 1 to get the answer? The former student isn’t me. I’m way old school math as I’m sure this post shows.

    -- Posted by kbmom on Tue, Nov 5, 2019, at 12:01 PM
  • As a former educator, I will share that neither party provides nor will provide the fix. We must truly identify the top/ most common 3-5 issues that impact student performance.

    Reality is, we, as a society, don't have the courage to name and address those 3-5 issues.

    -- Posted by beg on Wed, Nov 6, 2019, at 8:50 PM
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