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Making maths fun

The Class Threes and Fours were on their feet during the competition as excited as their competing classmates about the tie-breaker.

If anyone had asked, how do you get children excited about Maths? No one would have expected the answer could be as easy as – Jeopardy.

It was a lesson teachers at the St. Joseph Primary learnt yesterday as coordinator of Literacy Week, Marva Carrington brought four days of activities to an end with a robust competition between the three main houses at the school, red, yellow and blue.

Carrington explained that whereas, previously, annual Literacy Weeks focused on improving English and reading, this year they thought to concentrate instead on Mathematics as a way to get children to better understand the concepts and improve on the subject.

During the week, she said they had such activities as hopscotch, where each throw of the bag was followed by a Maths question which the student had to answer correctly before being allowed to move. There were also Maths puzzles and riddles thrown out to the student body at general assemblies, and which children were encouraged to solve the answers and report to teachers during the course of the day.

“We also looked at Bible stories with numbers in them, like the story of Noah and the animals, and Naaman, who had to dip in the river seven times. Then we had Mr. [Brian] Cook come in and give a presentation on the Language of Mathematics. I think we had good involvement from the children and it helped to strengthen their Maths skills,” said the teacher.

The week ended with a game of Jeopardy which combined Classes One and Two, and Classes Three and Four and then pitted the combined classes against each other in houses.

Carrington said the Class One and Twos competition finished earlier in the afternoon, while the Class Three and Fours, which was a very tight race battled even after the last bell.

Among these seniors T’neille Brome and Tyreke Gittens of Red house, went up against Geolesah Scott and Tarique Austin of Yellow and Teaneal Dawson and Tristan Howard of Blue in topics ranging from fractions to numbers and numerations and operations, among others.

So close was the competition that Yellow and Red ended up tied at 105 points, with Blue house just 10 points behind at 95. The tie-breaker, a question that combined geometry and algebra, again left the two houses stumped, as teams scribbled furiously to try to work out the equations associated with the problem.

With the bell gone and the audience on their feet bouncing, calling on their house mates to answer the question or waving their hands in some cases to indicate that they had worked out the sum, the teachers declared the competition would be continued on Monday when students would be expected to report the answer to her.

Teachers, Shernell Wilkie, Tanya Cox and Trudy Carter, who had assisted in the competition encouraged the children to use the long weekend to work out the problem, which would still be on the white board in the classroom for them on Monday.

Even after the competition had ended, the classroom was abuzz as students rushed to congratulate their colleagues on an exciting game, and continue discussion on the last problem that stumped them all. (LB)

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