Photo: Hahira Elementary School Top Math Graduation
LOWNDES CO. – Lowndes County 4th graders from Dewar and Hahira Elementary School successfully completed “Top Math” program.
Dewar and Hahira Elementary School students feel the need for speed… with their multiplication facts, that is!
The two schools successfully completed “Top Math,” an innovative math program developed by Misty Watkins and Shila Heeter, two 4th grade math teachers in Lowndes County Schools. Watkins, along with Angi McClain, facilitates Top Math at Hahira Elementary, while Heeter, Ashley Crews, and Patty Figarola lead the effort at Dewar Elementary.
The groundbreaking initiative, now in its second year, aims to enhance students’ speed, accuracy, and precision with basic multiplication facts in an engaging and aviation-themed manner.
“We were given two minutes to master each set of facts, 1-9,” explains fourth-grader Alex Yanez. “I already knew my 2s and 3s, but after all of this training and my studying at home, I was able to master all of them, even my 8s and 9s, which were the most difficult!”
Top Math draws inspiration from the iconic movie “Top Gun.” The program’s creators, Heeter and Watkins, envisioned a unique approach to making learning fun and extending education beyond the traditional classroom walls. Leveraging the rich community surrounding the schools, which includes the nearby Moody Air Force Base, the concept brings real-world applications of multiplication into the classroom.
“I want to bring learning to life for my students,” says Watkins. “I believe in turning innovative ideas into a reality that caters to the specific needs of the children I teach. Top Math was created to make learning real and relatable to the students in Lowndes County Schools.”
Heeter emphasized the importance of motivation in student learning.
“We are so thrilled that we were able to bring novelty and excitement into our classrooms to motivate students to master their multiplication facts. Motivation plays a critical role in students’ learning behaviors, and as teachers, we are one of the most significant influences on student learning,” Heeter says.
Top Math graduate Kynzie Dailey felt this motivation first-hand. “My favorite part of Top Math was seeing how much I could complete in just two minutes. It really pushed me,” she says.
Top Math has successfully attracted the involvement of Moody Air Force Base personnel for the past two years. Members of the Air Force Base crew have actively participated, demonstrating to students how multiplication plays a crucial role in their daily duties. The program’s success is evident, with more than half of the students mastering all of their math facts in nine weeks or less.
Both Dewar and Hahira Elementary Schools followed the curriculum this year and had their own graduation celebration and final competition amongst their top-ranked mathematicians. Local Airmen even attended to congratulate students. At Dewar Elementary, the Airmen even showed their own multiplication skills in a timed test! Next year, the two schools have hopes to combine forces and host a dual graduation ceremony, truly embodying the district’s One Lowndes mindset.
“It felt good having the Airmen congratulate us on mastering Top Math because they use multiplication every day in their jobs!” expresses Dailey.
The teachers envision Top Math as an enduring tradition, continuing to bring learning to life for fourth graders in the years to come.