Archive for the 'Math' Category

As education budgets continue to suffer, our goal is to help administrators unravel the maze

The recent headline in a New Jersey newspaper about yet more education budget cuts could have been from virtually anywhere in the country: “Schools thought they’d prepared for worst; they were wrong.”

Indeed, even as the economy seems to be emerging from the devastating recession, school districts continue to feel the very-real pain of budget cuts and funding shortfalls. Administrators have had to make tough decisions about allocating resources, and no doubt more pain lies ahead.

And yet, there are federal government funding resources out there that could make a real difference for cash-strapped districts. The problem is that some administrators may not know about those opportunities or do not understand the procedures for applying.

No one ever said it was a simple task to work through the maze of dealing with the federal grant makers.

Case in point:  The U.S. Department of Education soon will award $650M in Investing in Innovation Fund (known as “i3”) grants.  The awards will be based on a competitive review of applications from around the country, so it certainly behooves administrators to submit the best application packages possible.

Some administrators may need a head start.

That’s why we at Apangea Learning are committed to helping administrators and others in school districts know about funding opportunities and then how to master the complexities of securing those resources.

On March 22nd, we continue our knowledge-sharing initiative by hosting a webinar focused on the i3 grants.  On March 30th, we’ll host another webinar, this one dealing with the practical steps administrators should consider in going after some of the $3.5 billion being made available through the Obama Administration’s 2009 stimulus program.

Both Webinars will be presented by Todd Lamb, a former U.S. Department of Education official and a noted authority of school funding.   Lamb’s focus will be on the real-life steps administrators should take to win federal money.

Want to participate?

Visit www. for more information and to sign up for the webinars.

Let’s unravel the maze together.


Carnegie Corp. Issues “Compelling” Call to Arms to Promote Math & Science Education

Need For Understanding Role of  Differentiated Learning

The call to arms is compelling, concise – and urgent.

“The United States must mobilize for excellence in mathematics and science education … so that all students … achieve much higher levels of math and science learning,” says the opening lines of a new report from the Carnegie Corporation’s Advanced Study Commission on Mathematics and Science Education.

We couldn’t agree more.

The report, titled “The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy,” details a list of specific actions steps  to make fluency in math and science common among students at all levels of their academic careers.  (Read the full report here:

The Carnegie Corporation’s to-do list is deep and broad.  The report calls for a national mobilization – bringing together government at all levels, educators, administrators, unions, businesses and others – to create momentum. And the individual action steps range from how school systems are structured to teacher preparation and the need to adopt common (and higher) standards.

At stake is not just where we rank competitively in terms of academic performance against China, India and other emerging economic powers, but just what kind of society we want to be in the very near future. We all know that high-value, stable jobs — the underpinning of our economy and prosperity – are increasingly dependent on workers with skills and talents that, alas, are just not being learned by too many students.

We like to think that we’re already making a contribution to the very real need to put math and science education front and center.

Indeed, one of the Carnegie study’s detailed prescriptions calls for steps to engage teachers in data analysis and identification of students’ differentiated learning needs.

Differentiated learning is at the core of what we offer through our online, on-one-one tutoring services. We work with classroom teachers in the schools we serve to develop individualized leaning pathways, and then give each student the tools and support they need to make progress at his or her own speed. And we provide detailed reporting back to teachers and their schools so each student’s progress can be tracked closely.

We know from standardized test scores and, equally important, anecdotal evidence from tens of thousands of administrators, teachers and students that the approach works.

We are changing lives and helping young people be better prepared for the lives that await them – one student at a time.

What do you think about the Carnegie Corporation’s call to arms? We’d like to hear from you.

Sue Szelc: “I Want Them to Feel Good About Doing Well.”

If enthusiasm is infectious, it’s no wonder that Sue Szelc’s students have the fever – Apangea fever.

Szelc, an eighth grade math teacher in the Frazier School District in Perryopolis, Pennsylvania (about 30 miles outside of Pittsburgh), says she is “absolutely wild” about Apangea Math and that her 90 students share her fervor.  During the school year now ending, they did more than 16,000 problems through the service.

With an imaginative approach to integrating Apangea Math into her classroom – including positive reinforce for the students who devote at-home hours to working on the system — Szelc is the first place winner of  Apangea Learning’s First Annual Teacher Innovator of the Year Contest.

Second place goes to Shannon Kenyon of Orchards Elementary of Lewistown, Idaho, and Joan Meidl of Watertown School District in Wisconsin, captures third.

Our congratulations to the winners and a big shout thanks to all the teachers from across the country who submitted their stories. We’re grateful for the feedback.

First-place winner Szelc, a ten-year veteran in the classroom, says Apangea brings excitement to learning math. “My students enjoy working on Apangea Math. They like the contests, the points and the prizes. I try to keep the enthusiasm going by highlighting their successes in the classroom,” she says. “I want them to feel good about doing well.”

Szelc organized an Apangea Day at her school, with the students wearing blue and green face paint and clothes.  “It was great fun. Everyone got involved,” she says. “We had a lot of laughs.”

Another of her motivational techniques, Szelc says, is to keep a running tally posted in the classroom of how many problems each student solves in a week. Those who do 25 or more after school hours receive extra bonus points toward math mementos, such as school supplies. Plus, each Monday morning Szelc reads out the names of the hardest-working students and the class gives them a round of applause. She calls them her “Apangea All-Stars.”

“The students love to monitor their progress and encourage each other,” she says. “Apangea works for us on so many levels. It helps students when and how they need the extra math help, enabling them to work at their own pace. And it’s a focus in the classroom around which we build a team effort.”

While we’re grateful to Sue Szelc and all of the classroom teachers who help us make Apangea Math the powerful learning tool that it is, the real winners are the students who are lucky enough to have teachers like Szelc.

Hurry: “Teacher Innovator of the Year” Deadline is This Week

Attention teachers: Do you have a story to share with other teachers around the country about how you’re incorporating our online supplemental learning program into your classroom?

We’ve been on the prowl to find the “Apangea Learning Teacher Innovator of the Year” and right now we’re busy reviewing submissions from your peers in school districts nationwide. They’re telling us all the imaginative ways they’re putting our online supplemental learning program to work in their classrooms and how they’re getting their students pumped to work hard.

Got a story to tell? We want to hear it. But you’ll have to hurry – the deadline is Saturday, May 9th.  Please submit ideas to

We’ll be issuing a news release after we’ve picked the winner and runner-ups.

Stay tuned … big news ahead.

Apangea Learning Students love their pets DOGgone-it

Students within Western Pennsylvania and across the country love their pets DOGgone-it and are putting their money where their heart is. Today, the Western PA Humane Society will be awarded a check for almost $800 dollars from donations given by middle and high school students across the country, including those in the Pittsburgh region.



These students are part of a unique economic rewards-based incentive program designed by Pittsburgh-based Apangea Learning to motivate students to want to learn math. As students learn math through Apangea Learning’s supplemental math program, they accrue points for their efforts. Many students redeem these points for gift cards to their favorite retailer, BUT these students chose an altruistic option: donate the dollar value of their points towards a cause they believe in: The Humane Society.


“We are thrilled to accept this generous donation from these caring students,” says Lee Nesler, Executive Director of the WPA Humane Society.  “The money will be used to care for the thousands of animals that come to the shelter each month.”

Vista Del Lago High School Students Win ALapalooza ALthusiasm Award

Congratulations to the students at Vista Del Lago High School (Moreno Valley, CA) who won the ALapalooza ALthusiasm award, a national math contest sponsored by Apangea Learning. A special event will recognize these students for their accomplishments at Vista Del Lago High School on Thursday, August 28 beginning at 1 p.m. PST. 


Vista Del Lago High School competed with other summer school programs nationwide in Apangea Learning’s ALapalooza: Summer of Math Tour contest.  Vista Del Lago’s summer school students beat out more than 100 schools across the nation to win the ALapalooza ALthusiasm award, a prize given based on the number of after-school hours spent learning math — hours worked during their personal time that went above and beyond what was required for their summer school requirements!


“Our goal at Apangea Learning is to motivate students to want to learn math.  The students at Vista Del Lago showed amazing determination to succeed academically by working on Apangea Learning Math during their own time – even on nights and weekends.  It’s great when educators can get students fired up about learning!” said Apangea Learning CEO, Louis Piconi.

New Version of Apangea Learning’s Online Math Tutoring Solution Launched and Now Available to Parents for First Time

Today, we release a new version of our flagship math solution (formerly known as SmartHelp). Rebranded as Apangea Learning Math, a number of enhancements have been made to the product. Additionally, this new version is now also available for direct purchase by parents for use at home.  Previously, Apangea Learning Math was sold exclusively to schools/school districts.


Apangea Learning Math provides each student one-student-to-one-teacher differentiated math instruction through a unique integration of “intelligent” computer-animated learning coaches and live, certified teachers who instruct students online. A student’s learning pathway can be individually customized based on state standards, the student’s grade level and his/her proficiency level. New enhancements found in Apangea Learning Math include:


·         The Practice Zone – After completing all of the core problems in a module, students will complete a series of problems in the Practice Zone. This facilitates the transfer of skills learned in Apangea Learning Math to not only classroom exams, but also to high stakes assessment exams. Students can also select the design of their own Practice Zone page (customized skin) further personalizing their learning experience.

·         Altruistic Motivation – In addition to earning gift cards to their favorite retailers, Apangea Learning Math’s motivation system now allows students to donate the monetary value of their earned “ApangeaPoints” to a charitable cause of their choice.

·         Enhanced Page Design – The teacher and student homepages have been redesigned to a three column format to provide easier navigation and access to critical information.


“Launching Apangea Learning Math into both the retail and B2B platforms marks a very important milestone for the company,” explained Apangea Learning CEO, Louis Piconi. “Additionally, the Practice Zone will significantly help students improve their test scores. Many students feel a great deal of anxiety around test taking. To help alleviate this and build academic confidence, Apangea Learning Math’s Practice Zone is designed to teach students how to transfer the skills learned online to their written exams.”