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KOOGLER MATH CHAMPION

 

November 3, 2017

Jacque Ritchie

Cindy May and her student Isaac Leslie at KMS

Koogler Middle School student Isaac Leslie really made the grade this month. Leslie, 11, participates in the new Sopris Trans Math Program at KMS. Students are awarded points for successful completion of a series of graduated lessons. When the students acquire enough points they are able to compete against their peers in on-line math games. Like most video games, the more skillfully the student plays the higher level they achieve. Students compete against other kids in district, the state and ultimately the nation.

After many weeks of tireless study and determination, on October 5, at 1:45 pm, Koogler's own Isaac Leslie won the coveted title of number one in the nation.

"It felt great to win! I worked really hard at school and at home on the weekend. I used my laptop before it quit working." Leslie said the toughest part of the competition was, "The kid that was behind me...he kept going higher and higher, I was like, 'I can't let him beat me!'"

According to Department of Special Education Coordinator and Department Head Cindy May, she and all the students in class were rooting for Leslie as he drew ever closer to the top spot. "They would turn to him and whisper, 'You can do it Isaac, you can take him!'" May recalls.

May said, "This is a new program that was adopted this year. The students are pre-tested to determine what level they are on." May explained that through the testing process she and her team are able to personalize a structured lesson plan for each individual student that can effectively "fill in the gaps in skills that may be needed." May contends that math is a graduated subject. She explains that students first need to master basic addition and subtraction, then multiplication and division before they can successfully master fractions and expressions. "This particular student (Leslie) tested at level two which is the highest level for middle school." May spoke with pride about Leslie's achievement, "This kid was really focused. What they do is they go into these games on a time limit, then their accumulated points are compared to students in the district, the state and nationally. Isaac placed number one, competing against 121,185 other students in the district, the state and nationally all at once." Every week the games reset and the competition begins again, so Leslie only held the top spot for about two days before being de-throned but this did not seem to faze the math champ. "Right now I'm back up to 28th in the nation," he said, and still climbing. Besides bragging rights, Leslie received a certificate of achievement as his prize. Leslie said he wants to be an engineer when he grows up. Leslie was also awarded a "school money" prize by his teacher Ms. May. May, with the help of Principal Jessica Sledzinski personally bankroll the student store and other motivational prizes at KMS. "The district can't afford to pitch in, so we do what we can to make this happen," May said. "We use a check book system. The students get paid by the hour so it's run like a job." The students receive school money for their hard work that can be spent in the student store on snacks or other things they may need or want.

Leslie was modest about his national victory, "I really want to thank Ms. May because she really helped me with fractions. Because of her I have gold achievement (90 percent or above) on every lesson."

 

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