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Birmingham Schools Try First in Math for K-8

A sizable district in Alabama has been running a 2012-2013 pilot to motivate students using an online math skills portal. Birmingham City Schools is working with Suntex International, which produces First in Math. The project could involve some 19,000 students in grades K-8.

First in Math covers basic addition to complex algebra and encourages students to practice their math skills with game-style activities that provide automated feedback. When a student answers a question correctly, he or she receives an electronic award. Award points are tallied across schools and districts to create a competitive atmosphere.

Currently within the Birmingham system, the top scoring schools are Green Acres Middle School, Huffman Middle School, and Lewis Elementary School. The company said in a statement that the district solved four million math problems in one month of usage. That includes problems the students tackled during school hours as well as after hours.

"We have the opportunity to bring an exciting game-based supplemental tool into the classrooms of Birmingham City Schools," said Beverly Kimes, mathematics program specialist for the district. "First In Math provides rigorous content in a gaming format that is familiar to our students. I am already getting great feedback about how much our students are enjoying and benefiting from the program."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.