2024 Education Magazine

M-Pow a big success at Mt. Pulaski High School

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[February 09, 2024]   Shazam! Bang! POW! Nope. This is not a story about a superhero per se, but it does involve super skills. Mt. Pulaski High School’ Math Department, consisting of Ms. Jan Bowers and Mr. Michael Copley, has a weekly contest - Problem of the Week (M-POW) which promotes math in a positive light.

Recognizing that they have many gifted math students at MPHS, the teachers created M-POW as a fun way to challenge students, while providing an opportunity for families, faculty and staff, and the community to share in the excitement. Due to the rigor and time constraints during the school day, exploring interesting mathematical and logical puzzles and applications is not always feasible.

Each week, Ms. Bowers and Mr. Copley create a M-POW and post for freshmen through seniors to see if they are up for the current math challenge. Faculty and staff as well as community members are encouraged to also submit. “We try to choose problems of a variety of styles and formats to fit various learning styles including visual or kinesthetic, “ Bowers stated. They use current knowledge as well as explore ways to search for answers like working with classmates, families, internet searches, etc. M-POW encourages students to engage in mathematics and to apply classroom knowledge in different or unique ways. M-POW also enables students to think beyond what they already know.

At the close of the week, they go through the submissions-depending on the level of difficulty, there can be anywhere from 20 to 70 submissions each week- and post names of students who have entered correct answers. From the winners, a name is selected, and the student’s picture and the correct answer are displayed in the math wing on the “Math Wall of Fame.”

The weekly winner is awarded a bag of candy, and the monthly winners are presented with a gift certificate. Students look forward to the new problem each week, finding out if they got the correct answer, and if they were drawn for the prize.

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To promote the ways math can be fun in ways never deemed possible, winners are posted on the school’s website and Facebook pages. This publicity has been fun for the community as they can see the number and variety of students who respond and look for familiar faces. Building positivity around a subject some deem as challenging is exciting.

Finally, an unintended outcome that has occurred in that M-POW has helped to boost confidence and self-esteem in students’ school-wide in not only the area of mathematics but also in problem-solving skills. Having this weekly contest creates an opportunity to celebrate student success each week and to develop life-long skills applicable in any field.

[Article written by: Linda Smith, MPHS Instructional Coach]

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2024 Education Magazine

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