Teacher wins grant to boost math fluency

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Teacher wins grant to boost math fluency

Susan Schlueck, a mathematics teacher in the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park District won a $250 grant from NEFCU for a proposal to enhance her students’ math fluency.

“I just felt I needed more to help the students in my programs,” said Schlueck, who was seeking a way to improve students’ response time to simple math problems.

Schlueck heard about the teaching grants being offered by NEFCU, the Long Island credit union, and applied in late October.

When she returned from the holiday break, she received the $250.

Schlueck said $250 grant will enable her to purchase Hot Dots Elementary School Quiz Cards with a set of four Hot Dots pens – a novel technology to give students instant feedback in an entertaining experience. The students are presented with cards that contain simple math problems and multiple-choice answers to them. The student touches a circle next to what he or she thinks is the right answer. The pen lights up green or red and emits amusing sounds to indicate whether a correct or incorrect answer has been selected.

Beyond the flash-card approach, Schlueck said her students also use graph paper to actually cut out shapes that physically represent abstract calculations to convey the meaning of a mathematical solution.

“They’re working a lot on modeling now,” she said. “My students need more practice on it in different ways.”

The Hot Dots give the students a bit of amusement while they discover whether they’ve answered a math problem correctly. Schlueck said he has seen the same method work in other schools and is eager to try it with her students.

“As I work with the students, I hope I give them what they need,” she said.

Schlueck splits her time as a math support teacher between the Manor Oaks and Hillside Grade Schools. She typically worked with groups of fifth and sixth grade students in the past several years, working on their weak points in mathematics.

She said that expectations were rising with new state standards in all subject areas.

“The spark of the grant was the fact that New York State has adopted the common core curriculum,” Schlueck said.

New York State curriculum writers call for students to answer a basic math problem in less than a second without any hesitation.

“I’ve noticed that students needed help,” Schlueck said.

Schlueck said she watched the students she was working with still counting on their fingers and that the rote memorization method fostered by flash cards was boring to the students she was teaching. So, she said, she sought other teaching aids

She said she recently had an idea for another grant, then forgot it. But she remains undaunted.

“For my next grant? I’m sure there will be one,” Schlueck said, smiling.

Reach reporter Richard Tedesco by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 516.307.1045 x204

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