Principal Larry Davis introduced "Mr. Davis Math Questions" in August 2000. According to state test score data from the previous year, his students' math skills needed a boost. Teachers were putting renewed emphasis on math that year, and Davis wanted to do be part of that special push. He wanted to do something to emphasize the importance of math skills in students' everyday lives.
Davis decided to have some fun by including a special math contest as part of his morning announcement routine at Doctors Inlet Elementary School in Middleburg, Florida. Two days a week that year, he presented seven grade-appropriate math questions. He posed one question for each grade in his school, kindergarten to grade 6.
"Mr. Davis Math Questions" was born of a need. Now, four years later, it continues! At Doctors Inlet, math scores have risen by 12 percent since 2000. The results with the school's exceptional (ESE) students have been even more encouraging. [See sidebar.] The twice-weekly math question is such a part of the school routine that students would be disappointed if it was to go away.
USING "MORNING MATH" IN YOUR SCHOOL
Each week this school year, Larry Davis will share two days of "Morning Math" questions with Education World's readers. You should feel free to use and adapt those questions in your school in any way you see fit. Following are just a few possibilities.
"Morning Math" Contest
You can use the questions in much the same way Larry Davis uses them at Doctors Inlet Elementary. Each Tuesday and Friday, Davis presents a group of seven questions, one for each grade level -- kindergarten to grade 6 -- in his school. The questions are presented at the end of Davis's morning announcements. As soon as students hear their question of the day, they "do the math" on a sheet of scrap paper. When a student has a correct answer, they deliver it to their classroom teacher. If the student is the first to arrive at the correct answer, that student gets to go to the principal's office to receive a special pencil. At Doctors Inlet, the pencil's inscription reads "My Principal Is Proud of Me". When a student collects 5 pencils they can 'cash' them in for a prize -- a McDonalds or Chick-fil-A gift certificate, erasers, books, and more.
You could do the same thing in your school. Have pencils imprinted as Davis did, or have them imprinted I'm a "Morning Math" Winner! or with some other appropriate inscription.
In addition, feel free to change the name of this activity. You might even emphasize how you feel about the importance of math skills by including your name -- just as Larry Davis does when he presents "Mr. Davis Math Questions."
"Math Star" Chart
Teachers might create a special classroom chart that includes each student's name. Teachers can check students' "Morning Math" results each day a question is presented. Every student who presents the correct response that day earns a star for the "Math Star" chart.
Math Masters Gallery
Clearly, some students excel in math more than others. As a matter of fact, some of those "math stars" might soon corner the market on "Morning Math" pencils! Perhaps teachers can track student winners in their classes. When a student wins five pencils, their photos might be posted in a "Math Masters Gallery" -- prominently displayed in a school hallway -- where all students can see them.
They might earn another special prize too; for example, a special "My Student Is a Math Master at [Your School Name Goes Here]" bumper sticker for the family's car.Once their photo is added to the gallery, those students are no longer eligible for the pencil prize. That will motivate others to become members of the "Math Masters" club.
Another idea: Perhaps you want to have some extra fun! Capitalize on the popularity of Harry Potter by naming the special club the "Math Wizards." Your technology teacher could take digital photos of students in a Hogwarts T-shirt and "photoshop" a wizard's hat onto the student's head.
Morning Math QuestionNext to each letter, teachers will offer one possible solution to the day's math question. Only one answer is the correct one. Students do the math on the back of the slip, then color in the bubble next to the correct solution on the front of it.
O a. [answer a goes here]
O b. [answer b goes here]
O c. [answer c goes here]
O d. [answer d goes here]
O e. none of the above