EASTON, PA—The First In Math Online Program is growing by leaps and bounds, and that speaks volumes about the future of math education in America, according to the program’s creator, Robert Sun.
Last school year, students and educators earned about 960 million stickers on the FIM site. This season, during the peak times, FIM participants were earning an average of seven million stickers per day. According to Sun’s calculations, the program should top one billion (yes, that’s billion with a ‘b’) stickers earned sometime in early June of 2013.
Sun decided to celebrate this milestone by building a contest around it. “We thought it would be a great end-of-the-school-year activity to have Team Leaders ask their students to make calculations about exactly when the one billion “Big Bang” would happen—based on number of stickers earned per day and adjusting for trends,” explains Sun. “Each Team can submit their best-guess via a link available to Team Leaders on their FIM homepage.”
Every student on the winning Team receives a FIM drawstring backpack “goodie bag” containing an autographed 24 Game, along with a FIM lanyard and special letter of recognition signed by FIM creator Robert Sun. The Team Leader receives a Kindle Fire. The school receives all nine 24 Game editions, a 24 Game Tournament Kit and all three Math Club kits, and each item is autographed by Sun. The deadline for entries is midnight, May 31, 2013 (EST) – unless we cross one billion stickers before then.
Sun, who has been inventing ways to make math ‘fun’ for more than 20 years, says seven million stickers a day sounds impressive, but points out that it becomes even more impressive when you understand it means more than 20 million math problems have been correctly solved in schools across the country on each of those peak days.
“Schools that implement First In Math find it can produce the level of engagement necessary for math success, says Sun. “Activities on the FIM site are progressive, with each new level building upon skills gained in previous levels—just like video games. They also provide instant feedback, a sense of positive affirmation, and a familiarity that makes them a perfect supplement to classroom instruction.”
Sun believes that what needs to be embraced with equal enthusiasm are new teaching techniques. “For a generation of students weaned on Facebook, video games and 140-character Twitter messages, old methods are often insufficient. It’s imperative that we adapt our educational approach to take advantage of not only what kids relate to, but how their brains work,” offers Sun.
Sun believes that the cutting-edge First In Math program is an integral part of a new approach. “Schools must incorporate learning tools that are in step with today’s students to ensure that future educational goals are met.”
DENVER, CO—First In Math® Creator Robert Sun spoke about what he believes are the root components of successful math education during an afternoon session held April 17 during the 45th National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics Annual Conference.
His presentation, titled, ”Fostering a Positive Learning Experience in a Diverse Classroom: the Role of Instant Feedback and Deep Practice in Mathematics Education” was the focus of an hour-long session at NCSM’s yearly conference.
“Schools need to discover a way to erase inequities in student learning,” says Sun. “We must provide students with programs that provide instant feedback and deep practice, which will empower all of them to succeed at math. At the same time we must continually foster a supportive learning community.”
“There are seven key components educators should look for when choosing supplementary programs for their students,” Sun explained to his audience of math supervisors.
Distinguished speakers were featured throughout the conference. Each addressed important issues in mathematics education and leadership. The Keynote Speaker was Vicki Phillips, Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Other Major Session speakers included Linda Gojak, President of NCTM, Dr. Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University and Danica McKellar, best known as "Winnie Cooper" on The Wonder Years and now a three-time New York Times bestselling author with her groundbreaking books, Math Doesn't Suck, Kiss My Math and Hot X: Algebra Exposed.
Following the NCSM appearance, Sun joined representatives from Suntex International, who were also in Denver to showcase First In Math at NCTM's 2013 Annual Meeting & Exposition that began on April 17.
This year’s event focused on current math education topics, such as the Common Core, response to intervention, assessment, research, reasoning and proof, technology, and STEM.
Robert Sun is chairman, president and CEO of Suntex International Inc., and inventor of the company’s 24® Game and First in Math® Online Program. A native of China who emigrated to Philadelphia at age nine, Sun holds numerous U.S. patents and copyrights for his work in the field of educational games. He is a nationally-recognized expert in the use of technology to further mathematics education. In addition to visiting schools and educators across the nation, Sun regularly explores topics related to mathematics education in his Huffington Post blog.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Capitalizing on the popularity of the NCAA basketball playoffs, District of Columbia Public Schools kicked off a district-wide First in Math March Madness competition of their own. In the end, Simon Elementary School students carried through on an amazing Cinderella story and secured the win.
Simon ES students hoist a First In Math trophy after their big win. FIM Rankings show that Simon also advanced from #64 to #16 in the district’s Top Schools category – a significant achievement. Photo courtesy Josh Park.
The seeded, single elimination-style competition included 64 First In Math Teams. There were three major upsets in the Elite Eight round, and when the dust settled the Final Four were Anne Beers ES, Hyde-Addison ES, MacFarland MS and last but not least eventual champion Simon ES, who began the tournament seeded 64th and defeated #8 seed Shepherd ES.
“The March Madness tournament was a fun way for our students to increase their math skills, and I am hopeful that it will become an annual event,” says Coordinator of Blended Learning Dana Britt. “We created the competition around the First In Math Online Program because it already features a built-in competition component that provides motivation and sustains high activity levels among our students.”
To advance through each round of the playoffs, competing schools had to solve more math problems per-student on average than their opponent over the course of a two-day period. Simon students correctly solved more than 440,000 math problems during the three weeks of competition.
Britt says that she received a lot of positive feedback from teachers and principals who felt that the competition was a great way to get students interested in using the program outside of regular school hours. According to Britt, “DCPS is breaking new ground by combining online tools, such as First In Math, along with face-to-face instruction in multiple new blended-learning programs.”
Britt says there are a couple of things she might change for next year, but overall, she is very proud of how much work the schools put into the competition. “Simon Principal Adelaide Flamer told me that some students were arriving at 7:15 in the morning, giving up recess, and staying late in order to win. That kind of dedication not only wins competitions, but also builds improved test scores and a thriving school community!” Read related FIM N&N story
WASHINGTON, DC—While many enjoyed taking time off and relaxing over Winter Break, District of Columbia public school students were busy learning math! Schools participated in a First in Math winter competition, earning more than 300,982 First in Math stickers, and correctly solving approximately 902,946 math problems. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all of the students who worked hard on honing their math skills over the holidays.
Mr. Lam’s 4th grade - Seaton ES
Mr. Taylor’s 7th grade - Wheatley EC
Dr. Pough’s 6th grade - Deal MS
6th grade - Deal student Kaleb G.
5th grade - Janney student Joshua L.
8th grade - Truesdell student Elijah J.
PHILADELPHIA, PA-The 2011/2012 Number One First In Math player in the Nation, all grades, is Josephine Nguyen! Nguyen earned an amazing 49,270 stickers as of April 30, besting her nearest competitor by nearly 2,000 stickers.
Josephine Nguyen and Robert Sun pose with the FIM All Star Award Nguyen received as the 2012 #1 First In Math Player in the Nation, All Grades.
Nguyen, who was only nine when the contest ended in April, is the youngest player to achieve the #1 National rank. The quiet fourth-grader has attended St. William Catholic Elementary School in Philadelphia since Kindergarten. She and many of her classmates will attend St. Cecilia School next year due to the closing of St. William this June.
Nguyen, who shyly admits that her friends and classmates ask her for help when working with decimals and integers, was asked what advice she would give to other students who dream of becoming a top player. "Just try your best," said Nguyen, who is no stranger to hard work. As a second-grader she did not have access to a computer at home, so her father began taking her to libraries to work on FIM. Because the public libraries only allowed a limited number of minutes on their computers, it meant that father and daughter traveled, via city bus, to several libraries on many nights.
This year, as she advanced through the higher levels of the program she was often faced with math problems that she had not yet seen in class. Again, her biggest supporter was by her side. "I was lucky to have my father with me" says Nguyen, explaining that he helped her be patient when new concepts were introduced.
While she was not dedicated to a particular strategy, Nguyen says that she started all of the Skill Sets first in order to open the Bonus Games. She does not have a favorite Bonus Game, but maintains that Just The Facts is her favorite activity.
During a celebratory lunch at the Four Seasons Restaurant in Philadelphia, First In Math creator Robert Sun said "I am amazed at Josephine's focus and dedication." Sun estimates that she spent approximately 400 hours on the site to amass such a large number of stickers. "It's amazing, but she still has open modules to play."
Nguyen is an avid reader, with the "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books being among her favorites. She also plays the piano and she and her friends enjoy weaving strips made of plastic bags into purses-an idea they got from a field trip to the Arthur Ross Museum at the University of Pennsylvania where they saw an exhibit on weaving.
"Josephine is not just a good math student, she does well in all subject areas," says Sister Catherine Clark, IHM, Principal. "We are very, very proud of Josephine and what she has accomplished in the First In Math program this year. She was also busy in school working on a self-portrait, learning about the civil war, and working on a project where the students had to write a letter to a 'friend' from an important person in Pennsylvania history." Nguyen chose Betsy Ross, researched Ross's life and made sure to write in the correct speech of the time period (i.e. thee and thou).
Last year, Nguyen was ranked 4th in the nation and received a FIM All Star award. This year, in addition to another All Star award, she received an Apple iPod Touch, a book, a 24 Game pin and a special 24 Game Anniversary Edition signed by Sun.
SECRETARY, MD-On May 27, parents and students from Warwick
Elementary gathered at the Laurel Airport in Delaware to watch
Assistant Principal Leslie Tolley jump out of an airplane! Several
days later, both Tolley and the school's principal, Susie Price,
puckered-up to kiss a pig in front of the entire student body.
Students cheered wildly at both events, which were the payoff on a
promise Tolley made to her students at the beginning of the school
Assistant Principal Leslie Tolley just seconds
into her free-fall, and kissing an adorable baby pig provided by
"Warwick Elementary participated in the national First in Math
Top Ten competition this year for the first time," explains Tolley.
"Students immediately became engaged in the program, but I decided
I wanted to present them with a challenge, so in September I told
them I would kiss a pig in front of the whole school if Warwick was
ranked #1 in Dorchester County out of all elementary and middle
schools by May. The older students one-upped my challenge, and
asked if I would skydive instead. I couldn't say no," smiles
Warwick teachers did their part, announcing their Player of the
Day every morning, awarding Player of the Week and Team of the Week
prizes every Monday, and routinely holding drawings and contests
for those students who were top players. Students donated a toy pig
playfully named 'Bacon' and made it their unofficial mascot. Tolley
says students not only remained enthusiastic and engaged in the
mathematics challenge throughout the school year, but they also
exceeded her expectations.
"As a former math teacher, I am thrilled to see the level of
excitement in both the students and staff regarding First In Math,"
says Tolley. "This program made math fun for our kids, and provided
incentive for them to learn beyond the scope of their prescribed
curriculum. Teachers regularly shared that students would ask for
instruction on topics that are typically not taught until much
later in the year or even the next grade level. In years past,
teachers have struggled with keeping their students on
education-based websites when given time on the computers. This
year, students were begging to get on First in Math!"
"I am anxious to see the increase in our standardized
mathematics scores. I have no doubt that scores will far exceed
what we have achieved in the past, due largely to our participation
in First in Math."
Principal Price points out that in addition to all of the
recognition students received-and all of the math practice-she was
ecstatic to see the number of minority students who ranked in the
top five in their classes. "First In Math truly motivated these
students to excel in the area of mathematics, which was an
advantage that we did not fully realize until the FIM awards were
handed out at the end of the year."
Top left: Principal Susie Price, Assistant
Principal Leslie Tolley and FIM Rep. Brock Estes congratulate
Rachael Albert, top-ranked student in Dorchester County and the
State of Maryland among 2nd graders. Top right: Several Warwick
students offer encouragement at the airport. Bottom: Top five
students in each class receive awards at the FIM recognition
"Congratulations on a great first year with First In Math,"
exclaimed FIM representative Brock Estes, who was a guest of honor
at the school's May 31 Award Ceremony. "Assistant Principal Tolley
certainly went way above the call of duty in her promise to kiss a
pig. And, oh yeah, jump out of a perfectly good airplane! I've
never seen someone so totally calm before a first jump... it was as
if she were gathering students for an assembly." The skydiving
footage was played at the beginning of the celebration, to the oohs
and aahs of all in attendance. Estes presented Principal Price with
a plaque recognizing the school's #1 ranking in Dorchester County,
and Tolley received a plaque for excellence in promoting
Additional honors went to Cole Ledger, the top-ranked first
grader in the state of Maryland, and Rachael Albert and Ian Ledger,
ranked #1 and #2 in Dorchester County, respectively, among all
second-graders. Teacher Lisa LeCompte was recognized as the
top-ranked educator player in Dorchester County and 8th-ranked
educator in the state. Awards were given to the top five players on
each Team, and medals were awarded to the top five players in the
Estes also thanked Michael Johnson, K-12 Supervisor of Math, for
making sure that that Dorchester County had FIM in all their
Elementary and Middle schools this year.
Looking back, a happy Tolley says it was all worth it, even
though she may not have needed to provide the additional
motivation. "When I first presented the 'kiss a pig/skydive'
challenge in September, it was because I never dreamed that
students could remain at the same level of enthusiasm and
excitement until May. Right now, instead of dropping the program
until next year, our students are still playing, and have been
tossing around ideas for future challenges. I am so proud of the
fact that they want to do even more, and exceed the bar that they
have set so high this year."
Although the challenge for next year has yet to be determined,
Mrs. Tolley-and her students-are looking forward to September.
PHILADELPHIA, PA-Hancock Elementary School and General J. Harry
LaBrum Middle School have two separate identities in two separate
buildings, but for all intents and purposes they are considered a
combined school. They share the same Principal, William Griffin,
and the same Assistant Principal, Andrea Miller. They also share a
winning philosophy that has led them to success in the First In
Math Online Program.
Hancock teacher Hayley Dogon created a First In Math competition
between the two schools, hoping it would inspire students to
greater success within the program. Hancock fifth-grader Chris Fu
ran with it, and when the 2012 National Competition ended he ranked
20th in the nation, all grades-and #1 among all School District of
Philadelphia students. An interesting young man, Fu also designed
and constructed a replica of Philadelphia's famous Benjamin
Franklin Bridge that is on permanent display at the school. Fu was
honored when Sun visited the display. "Chris was really excited
when I told him that Mr. Sun was an engineer," says Miller.
LEFT: Like Assistant Principal Miller, Hancock
teacher Barbara Schiffman is a long-time fan of the original 24®
game. She showed Sun one of the first editions of the game she
bought-look at the size of those cards!
RIGHT: Sun congratulates #1 School District of Philadelphia player
Chris Fu as his classmates look on.
Sun addressed the large crowd gathered at Hancock and shared the
story of his emigration to the US, and the difficulties he
experienced adjusting to school in a new culture. During a question
and answer session that followed, students asked questions like:
'how did you come up with the name First In Math' and 'how do you
think up the games'? During the award ceremony, Sun presented
Principal Griffin with a plaque, which prompted a huge round of
applause. Plaques were also presented to Miller and Dogon, and
awards were given to top three FIM players on each team, and top
five in the school.
Earlier in the day, Sun visited LaBrum to present their top five
FIM students with Achievement Medals. "We are proud of our
students," said Miller, pointing out that two of the top five
players also receive support for Autism. Part of the reason for
Sun's visit, however, was to meet 6th-grader Bryan Henry, who's
science fair project was all about First In Math. Henry enlisted
'lab people' to take a math-skills test. Then, some were able to
use FIM, and some were not. Later he retested the same subjects,
and found that the group that used the FIM site did better than the
control group. He presented his findings in a display titled 'First
In Math…First or Last? Does First In Math Help Students Do Better
on Math Tests?' complete with charts and graphs.
Bryan Henry stands next to his FIM science
project detailing his findings on how First In Math affected his
fellow students' mathematics skills.
"I like the initiative Bryan took in tackling a difficult topic
like education research. It is a topic that is of great interest to
me, as well," says Sun. "I've reviewed his project myself, and on a
grass-roots level it proves what other scientifically-based studies
have shown, that FIM helps students improve their basic math
skills." Sun says that he is going to try and work with Bryan in
some way during the next school year, and have him continue the
research on measuring resolve and persistence of urban children.
Sun presented all of Henry's lab subjects with FIM t-shirts, and
gave Henry a 24® Game baseball cap.
John Hancock is designated as a Demonstration School, and LaBrum
is in the process of becoming one. Teachers at Demonstration
Schools get extra training, and teachers from other schools can
come and learn from them.
PHILADELPHIA, PA-Representatives from Suntex International,
makers of the First In Math® Online Program, had a great experience
in the City of Brotherly Love at NCTM's 2012 Annual Meeting &
Exposition that began April 25. "There's always a lot of excitement
centered around the nation's largest math education event, but it
was extra-special for us to be at the Pennsylvania Convention
Center this year because it coincides with the 24th anniversary of
the release of the 24® Game," says Suntex Executive VP Nan
Left: Teachers talk with Staci Klemmer at the
24® Game end of the expansive FIM booth.
Right: Jeane M. Joyner, Director of Mathematics & Science
Institutes and Co-Director TAP Math at Meredith College stops to
chat with Bob Sun. Suntex worked with Joyner and Meredith College
to allow more than 100,000 North Carolina students access to FIM
through the TAP Math grant.
CEO Robert Sun grew up and attended school in Philadelphia, as
did Ronis. "Our home office is in nearby Easton, PA, and the first
large-scale implementation of our online First In Math program
began right here in the School District of Philadelphia in 2003,"
explains Ronis. (See Editor's note)
In early 2002, Sun's web-based program featured eight,
three-part modules based around core math skills covered in the 24®
Game series. Fast-forward ten years later, to the colorful First In
Math® NCTM exhibit that incorporated six Android tablets, allowing
educators to experience all 124 games the program has to offer on
two large video monitors.
Sun enjoyed the lively give-and-take with many educators
visiting the exhibit. "Educators agree that immediate feedback is
crucial in keeping students engaged and having them take ownership
of the learning process. Once energized, children are eager to put
in the time and effort to practice-which leads to mastery. FIM is
designed to provide an engaging entry point for any child,
regardless of their starting skill level. It unfolds at each
student's own pace, enabling them to see immediate progress as they
acquire increasingly more complex skills. This approach is proven
to work especially well in urban settings where other methods may
have failed." (To read more, download PDF: Urban Students Have the Grit To Succeed In
One section of the FIM exhibit paid homage to the 24® Game and
its loyal audience. "Games were going like hotcakes," laughs former
Suntex staffer Staci Klemmer. Klemmer, who currently teaches in the
Pennridge School District, uses the FIM program in the classroom,
but professes undying love for the 'game' that started it all. "The
24® Game seems so simple, but it teaches students the importance of
perseverance and flexibility. Students need to realize that they
may not get the answer immediately, but with persistence they can
solve any problem. The fact that there are often multiple solutions
to each card also encourages them to think creatively."
Suntex representatives Cred Dobson and Nancy Kane attended the
Benjamin Banneker Association dinner that was held in conjunction
with NCTM. The three-day exposition featured presentations,
workshops, and minicourses that cover all grade levels.
Editor's note: FIM was introduced in more than
2,600 third- through eighth-grade School District of Philadelphia
classrooms in 2003. One year later, the district reported a 7.4%
increase in fifth-grade students scoring at the proficient and
above level, compared with a 5.2% increase for students statewide.
Improvement for eighth graders was even more impressive: an 11.1%
increase in students scoring proficient and above, versus a 6.1%
increase statewide. In the district's Northwest Region, where the
program was most diligently implemented, fifth-grade scores
increased 15.1%-double the school district's broader increase and
three times the state average. In one school, eighth-grade results
jumped nearly 42% in a single year. Over the past nine years,
Philadelphia students have correctly solved about 948 million math
problems using the First In Math® Online deep practice program. The
result was a district-wide increase in the percentage of students
scoring proficient and above on the Pennsylvania System of School
Assessment (PSSA) tests every year, for a total gain of 39.5
ELK GROVE, CA-The 2012 Dr. Lola J. May
Achievement Award has been presented to C.W. Dillard
Elementary teacher Mathew David Morse, who earned more than 49,000
stickers en route to becoming the #1 First In Math Team Leader
Player in the nation for the 2011-2012 school year.
"I attended one of Dr. May's math workshops
when I was in college," says Morse. "She held the attention of
everyone in that huge auditorium, and was actually quite hilarious.
To receive an award named after her is outstanding, and I am very,
Morse, #1 FIM Team Leader Player in the nation for 2011-2012, is
pictured here with his mother, Jane Morse, at a Sacramento State
University alumni meeting honoring his father, who was also a
Morse recounts that his journey to #1 began
in August, and he played every day until mid-November, when he
needed a short break to recharge his batteries. "In October I had
become frustrated with my unsuccessful efforts to build nine wheels
in the Factors game, so I contacted the customer support people at
FIM, who were great. They told me that while it was difficult, it
could be done. They didn't tell me how, but I took their advice and
continued to try. I worked my you-know-what off trying to figure it
out," laughs Morse.
"As a teacher, I find it is sometimes best
to allow students to forge ahead and figure things out on their
own. That's exactly how FIM works-the parameters are clearly given,
and it is up to the student to actually think, not just recall
facts." Clearly proud to have conquered the Factors challenge,
Morse says that the highest Factors score he ever achieved was a
78. "I mostly scored 68's. I did the games at night while my son
was doing his homework."
"Participating in this First In Math
challenge has been a blast," says Morse. "You can learn a lot about
yourself in these types of situations. I've learned that I have the
same competitive fire I had when I was a youth, but I did this not
only because I am competitive, but because if a student has a
question, I want to be able to answer it having been in their
shoes. We are all life-long learners."
Morse realized that after playing regularly,
he was able to come up with answers faster, as well as remember and
retain some math skills he thought long forgotten. "One night it
came to me in the middle of one of the Skill Set games. I thought
'there is no way I can go faster' - well, I did go faster. I feel
the Skill Set games might be the best part of FIM for helping the
brain stay flexible. They force you to think quicker."
He saved the final three rounds of the Into
the Vortex bonus game for last. "ITV is a hard game. I had to dig
into the past for math knowledge and be extremely patient,"
explains Morse, who says he also enjoyed the rigorous
Area/Perimeter 2D game.
Morse has taught several First in Math
workshops in Sacramento County, and says people genuinely enjoy
learning about it. "I tell teachers that FIM is a program that
actually does what it says it's going to do-benefits young people
by strengthening their math skills. I want what is best for my
kids, and this program is by far the best I have seen in my 25
years of teaching."
Math runs in the family for this dedicated
teacher. His father was also a teacher, and was the first student
to register at Sacramento State University when it opened in 1948.
"Dad was also the first alumni president, the person that came up
with the mascot (Hornet), and he helped write the fight song. Some
folks think of him as Mr. Sacramento State," according to Morse,
who also explains that when his father named him, he took the
subject of math into consideration. "He named me Math-ew. It always
made sense to me, but most people use two Ts instead of one."
PHOENIX, AZ-Third-grade teacher Diana
Schlepp is smiling as she walks the campus of Solano Elementary
School. She's still smiling as she greets students in her
classroom. She has reason to smile; one of her students, Henry
Amancha, is currently the #1 First In Math player-all grades-in the
state of Arizona.
"We are so excited for Henry," says Schlepp.
"He earned nearly 14,000 virtual 'stickers' in the program and has
completed all of the Know & Show units and Gyms through
Integers, which is quite an accomplishment for a third-grader."
Schlepp believes his effort-and the First in Math site-have made
Henry Amancha, pictured at left and with
his third-grade classmates, says he enjoys the challenge the
First In Math program offers.
"Henry is a great kid with an amazing work
ethic who is constantly striving to do his best-he loves to be
challenged," says Schlepp. "He takes extra work home just because
he wants to excel. In fact, most of his effort in First in Math has
been from home." Schlepp points out that Amancha is an English
Language Learner, and mostly Spanish is spoken at home. She
believes FIM not only improved his math skills, but his reading
skills, as well. "I'm proud of the fact that he has shown great
improvement in both areas of academics, and has made the honor
"Our whole family knows about Henry's
success in First In Math, and is very proud," according to his
mother. Solano Master Teacher Jill Crossley says that when she
asked Amancha's parents what their message would be to other
parents in terms of helping their children set and achieve goals,
they responded resolutely with one phrase-spend time with them. The
Amanchas spend time together every day and have rules about TV
watching and bedtimes, but occasionally allow the rules to be
broken as a reward. Both parents believe it is important to be well
rounded, and are proud that their son excels in sports, in school
and in other areas.
Schlepp says Amancha helped provide support
to one of her autistic students just because he enjoys helping
others. He was elected to student council, and has helped with a
carwash, served patrons at a spaghetti dinner and been an
enthusiastic supporter of all student council activities.
Solano is currently ranked as the #3 FIM
school in the state of Arizona, all grades, and Schlepp feels
strongly that Amancha is only one of many success stories the
program has helped create. Recently, another of her students was
scheduled for special education testing after the first trimester.
"But after the second trimester grades came out she had grown so
much academically that she did not qualify. We acknowledge First In
Math for a lot of her success. She has already earned more than
5,000 stickers and loves it-and the learning."
GHAZIABAD, INDIA-Following last month's visit to Billabong High
International School, First In Math representatives Monica Patel
and Akshita Gandhi conducted a First In Math motivational assembly
at Ryan International School for Standards 3-5 and 6-8. The school
currently has more than 1,600 students enrolled in the online
Top photo: Ryan students greet the Suntex Team.
Bottom photos, l to r: Top player, Naman, is honored for solving
15,982 problems on the FIM program and receives a FIM backpack;
Principal Anju Sharma elevates student spirit, prior to the
assembly; Akshita Gandhi applauds as top students are
Patel, a former teacher, deeply enjoys meeting with students,
and couldn't help noticing that the cold winter of Delhi was in
sharp contrast to their bubbling excitement. "The children were
amazed that they had solved so many problems. When I asked them how
many stickers they had-and then told them to multiply the number by
3 because each sticker represents roughly three problems solved
correctly-they went mad!"
Patel was particularly impressed with a student named Chahak,
who was ranked #5 at Ryan, and the only girl in the top 10. "When
we honored her during the ceremony, I set a goal for her: try and
make it to #1 so that you can inspire all female mathematicians,"
explains Patel. "Would you believe that this darling girl rose to
the challenge, and in 20 days made it to #1, all grades. She
currently has more than 7,000 stickers."
"When we showed students how to interpret FIM Rankings at the
State, National and even International level, there was tremendous
excitement and the children were furiously calculating how many
stickers they would need to earn to get to the desired Rank," adds
Gandhi, pointing out that in the month following the visit, Ryan
International has gone from an average of 80 stickers per student
to 203 stickers per student.
As in the BHIS assembly, Patel spoke about her four steps for
1. Address the question, 'Why should I do maths?'
2. Crush the 'maths anxiety' that many students feel by tailoring
FIM to their comfort level.
3. Relate compelling stories of Champions of FIM and give students
a lofty goal.
4. Show students how to achieve their goal while enjoying the
process of attaining the goal.
She also pointed out that the added benefit is that this
four-step process transfers the ownership of maths practice onto
the student. "I cannot stress enough the importance of this 'Deep
Practice' that FIM promotes," explained Patel.
Patel also recognized Top FIM Teams for their performance, as
well as the Top 10 Players and Players of the Week. The assembly
ended with students chanting, 'Play FIM with the courage of lions
and rule the Rankings!' Afterward, students approached Patel asking
for tips and pointers. Their respectful behavior, outstanding
conduct, and keenness to learn were a reflection of the best of
Indian culture. Patel and Gandhi are appreciative of the very warm
welcome extended to them by Principal Anju Sharma, FIM School
Anchor Arpita Sharma, the Vice Principal and the supervisors of
respective grade groups.
Patel has been a First In Math® Online Program Implementation
Strategist in the U. S. for the past two years, and travels to
India regularly to help the program grow in her native country.
"Both assemblies I have attended during my first visit of 2012 were
memorable, and I can't wait to share the experience with our
students in USA. Through First In Math, we are fostering a global
community of student mathematicians!"
FIM Implementation Consultant, Akshita Gandhi, is permanently
based near Delhi, and can be reached via email at email@example.com with
questions about the First In Math® Online Program.
GHAZIABAD, INDIA-On January 16, 2012, First In Math® Online
Program Implementation Strategist Monica Patel conducted a
motivational FIM student assembly at Billabong High International
School. The event was organized by Jasmine Gandhi, the Director of
BHIS, and FIM's own India-based Implementation Consultant, Akshita
Left to right: FIM Implementation Consultant
Akshita Gandhi; BHIS Principal Dimple Anil; FIM Global
Implementation Strategist Monica Patel; Director of BHIS Jasmine
Gandhi; Simran Sapra and Mr. Imtiaz, Head of Sanchetna Center for
Special Needs at BHIS.
"I was thrilled to receive a traditional Indian welcome from the
Principal and staff, complete with the ceremonial lamp, flowers and
tilak," says Patel. The children's chorus sang the school song and
presented a folio of the Agenda for the afternoon. After meeting
with new principal Dimple Anil, Patel was given a tour of
Sanchetna, the school's Learning Center for Special Needs in
The assembly was attended by standards 3 through 5, as well as
teachers and supervisors of curriculum. Patel covered four main
topics, because she considers successful implementation to be a
"First, address the question many students ask themselves, 'Why
should I do maths?' Next, find ways to crush the 'maths anxiety'
that most students feel by tailoring FIM to their comfort level.
The third step in the process is for educators to relate compelling
stories of other FIM Champions and give their students the same
lofty goal-which is to be among the Top International schools and
inspire all Indian students to follow. Finally, educators must show
students how to reach for this goal while maintaining a level of
enjoyment with the process," explains Patel.
The added benefit is that this four-step process transfers the
ownership of maths practice to the students-where it belongs, says
Patel. (Only one month later, with a renewed focus, BHIS students
increased their school average from 378 stickers-per-student to 775
Patel's remarks were kept brief so that students could ask
questions. They were thrilled when the answer to their first
question, 'Can you speak Hindi?' was given in Hindi, the national
language. Students talked about some of their favorite modules,
such as Just the Facts, Know & Show and Bonus Games, and
excitedly promised Patel that they would continue exploring the FIM
world. Currently, more than 300 BHIS students are enrolled in the
FIM Online Program.
After a heartwarming farewell speech by a representative of the
student body, a delicious North Indian lunch was served with utmost
hospitality. First In Math's ability to engage students, and
translate ownership of maths practice, was discussed in more detail
afterward with School Anchor Shilpi Sharma and Anu Parabhakar, BHIS
supervisor of curriculum.
Patel left the school very impressed with what she saw. "The
teachers held their students to the highest standards of conduct,
which was evidenced by the respectful, yet warm interaction of the
students with me and with our consultant, Ms. Gandhi."
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