McLaurin uses Jeopardy to prepare for state tests

Published 12:36 am Monday, March 31, 2008

NATCHEZ — Seeing children become legitimately excited by math is rare.

But that’s exactly what happened at McLaurin Elementary School Friday.

Throngs of third-graders where whipped into a state of algebraic agitation in McLaurin’s gym during a Jeopardy-style math competition on Friday morning.

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The competition was specially designed by enterprising teachers at the school to prepare students for the upcoming MCT2 test.

Since the school year started teachers have been readying their students to take the MCT2 in May.

And Friday’s math competition was the culmination of weeks of hard work for teachers and students.

Friday’s contest was a sort of best of the best contest for third-grade math students.

Three teams of three competed in a contest that was designed to highlight the five core strands of the MCT2.

The strands, essentially categories, focused on: number sense, algebra, geometry, measurement and data analysis.

The MCT2, a standardized test for grades 3-8, is considered by many educators one of the most essential tests students will take.

“It’s the most important thing they will do all year,” said Amy Smith, third-grade math teacher. “It’s critical.”

The MCT2 is used as a barometer to gauge a school’s performance and progress.

Scores from the individual students are used to generate a score for the school.

The score, in the form of a number rating, is then assigned to the school.

McLaurin is currently rated at a three and teachers want to raise that.

“We want to go as high as we can,” Smith said.

The highest score a school can achieve is a five.

But students at Friday’s event appeared more concerned with math related fun than the MCT2.

Each time a competing student correctly answered a question their classmates would explode in cheers.

The winning team Torrance Allen, Kreshanna McDonald and Areonia Robinson, from class 3-B won the contest with 2,200 points.

Their teacher, Denise Frederick, said she was extremely proud of her students.

“They all worked very hard,” she said.

Frederick said she has been using several different study methods to prepare her students for the MCT2.

“We have practiced in every possible way,” she said. “We also try to use lots of hands on learning, it works well.”

And Frederick’s methods have seemingly worked well, both McDonald and Allen named math as their favorite subject.

Allen said he enjoys math because it gives him the opportunity to sort through problems.

“It’s fun,” he said.

Superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District Anthony Morris applauded teachers efforts to ready students for the MCT2 in anyway.

Morris agreed with teachers saying the test was “very important,” for schools and students.

“It’s a final evaluation point for students,” he said. “It’s very important.”