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.