Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Race for Multiplication Table Gold as Mathletes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Race for Multiplication Table Gold as Mathletes

Article excerpt

Byline: terry brown, st. johns sun

On your mark. Get set. Go.

The students set out in a feverish pace, racing against the clock. Four minutes is all the time they have. The raise of a clenched fist signals a silent but jubilant celebration for young Alex Fleming, who beat the clock with a time of three minutes, 24 seconds to become a bronze medalist for the first time.

These are no ordinary students, they are mathletes.

Durbin Creek Elementary School Principal Patricia Falaney was looking for a new way to challenge students when fourth grade teacher Lisa Pruitt came to Falaney with the idea of Mathletes at the beginning of the school year.

The innovative program requires students to memorize their multiplication tables and answer 100 problems correctly within a four minute time limit.

"The good nuns at St. Winifreds in Wales were not that inspiring in math," Falaney said recalling her childhood classes she attended at a Catholic school. "Sister Mary's teaching of math wasn't the most fun."

The challenge at Durbin Creek was to inspire students to get as excited about math as many are with reading at the school. Using an Olympic theme, the students' times dictate whether they are a mathlete and at what level.

A student becomes a mathlete by answering all 100 problems correctly. To become a bronze medalist, they must answer the equations within 3 minutes, 30 seconds, silver within 3 minutes and gold medalist in under 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

The program is open to students in second grade through fourth grade and there are about 200 students participating, according to parent coordinator Colleen Paul, who volunteers her time along with Lisa Mercurio to the program. Together, these parent volunteers collect, correct and post the mathletes list and times each Tuesday afternoon, and provide Falaney with a list of new mathletes for recognition during Wednesday morning announcements.

According to Falaney, the students really have embraced the program. She explained that not all students can accelerate in reading but many have an enormous capacity to remember numbers. …

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