Not your grandfather’s math! Inside the Acaletics math program at Englewood Elementary

Oct. 4, 2022 –  Try solving this…There are 18 players on a football team.  On the team, one-third of the players are 12 years old.  Of the 12-year-olds, one-third have never played football before.  What fraction of the players on the team are 12-years-old who have NOT played football before?

This may be a brain-scratcher for adults, but it’s just one of many back-to-back math teasers that fifth graders throughout the district have 60 seconds to solve in a daily, lightning-paced math program known as Acaletics.

Used in second – fifth grade classrooms in select elementary schools throughout the district, Acaletics is a powerful math intervention program to boost students into excelling at grade-level math.

It’s fast. It’s complex. And it’s repetitive.

And that’s the point, said Melissa Goodman, who is the math interventionist and coach at Englewood Elementary School.

The 18-year educator assists teachers at the school with conducting the daily, 30-minute math sessions. Through the program, students are repeatedly exposed to grade-level math, even before they get to their core math classes.

“We teach students that they’re not going to know everything and that’s ok,” Goodman said. “We teach them that you must try every single problem but it’s ok if you get something wrong. Then we find your error and correct your thinking.”

Goodman says that the problems – often complex and involving many steps – become less intimidating to the students when they realize that being right or even finishing the problem is not the point. The key is to try.

“That’s a big part of Acaletics,” said Goodman. “We tell them there is no wrong answer. We know as adults there is a wrong answer and a right answer. What we mean is that there is no wrong thinking. The students are thinking their way through the problem. You’ll notice in the 1-minute time frame that we give them, they don’t always finish, but we celebrate their thinking and the way they were going about the problem.”

Team Duval News caught up with Goodman and a few of her 5th-graders as they galloped their way through fractions and place value problems. Despite the rough terrain, Goodman noted that students remained engaged and had “aha” moments.

It’s an observation that made her emotional.

“That’s actually why we do this,” Goodman said, wiping away tears. “I think that’s the reason we’re all in this business. And that’s the reason we’re all on the same team and we’re working so hard. For that goal. For that exact moment. Any moment they get that aha, is a celebration.”

(Note: Answer to math question above is one-ninth.)

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