Two classes of El Campo fourth graders won a national math games contest, along with nine other U.S. classrooms, and celebrated Wednesday with a pizza party.
Kimberly Grudzieski, who teaches fourth grade math at Northside Elementary, entered her students for the biannual Imagine Math contest, which required students to complete lessons through the online program Imagine Math to enter.
Imagine Math is an online platform where students can complete math-themed games, activities and quizzes to learn different curriculum principles. Grudzieski’s classes focused on math operations, like addition and subtraction.
“A lot of my students even take it upon themselves to go the extra mile and work on Imagine Math outside of school,” Grudzieski said. “They were so excited when they heard the news (that we won), as I did not even tell them that I was entering them in the contest.”
Grudzieski’s classes were among 10 classrooms in the U.S. to win the contest. The winning classes were chosen randomly out of the pool of entries after completing the eligibility requirements.
The prize was a $50 gift card to a pizza joint of the teacher’s choice, and Grudzieski opted for Dominoes. Parents donated some additional funds so that there would be enough pizza for the entire class to have their fill at the party.
The contest began earlier in the school year, on Aug. 31, 2020, and ended in December. In order to enter, at least 50 percent of students in the class were required to log on over 20 times and successfully complete the assignments.
Completing the program in preparation for the contest has been an effective learning method for her students, according to Grudzieski.
“The students can do mental math at times instead of trying other methods to solve addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems,” Grudzieski said. “I believe this (is contributed) to the program being so engaging.”
This year’s victory was not the first for Grudzieski, who celebrated a win with her classes in the 2019-2020 school year. Back then, however, the classes were unable to hold their pizza party due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down schools in early March.
About 85 percent of Grudzieski’s students had completed the addition unit when she entered them in the contest. Out of her 35 students, 26 have now finished two units, and Grudzieski hopes to see her students complete the lessons on addition, subtraction, division and multiplication by May 3.
“It is important as a teacher to set high expectations, so the students know anything is possible,” Grudzieski said. “When they reach a goal, they know it is more rewarding when they put effort into it.”