A fresh take on traditional mathematics competitions
In 2018 we launched our first-ever nationwide Mathspace Teacher Challenge in Australia.
More than 80,000 students and 1,400 teachers from across the country took part in the Challenge which ran for four weeks, from 20 August to 17 September 2018.
The Challenge was about recognizing teachers for the impact they have — not just on student mathematics achievement, but also on student mathematics growth and improvement. Over 4 weeks we tracked student mastery growth. The top teachers were the ones whose students achieved the highest average mastery growth for the period.
Mathspace Co-Founder and CEO, Mohamad Jebara, said that the Mathspace Teacher Challenge celebrated the “growth mindset” — the belief that anyone’s abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.
What I loved most about this Challenge was that it didn’t just favor the students in the top mathematics classes. Every student had an equal opportunity to excel – this was all about learning new skills.
Over four weeks students learnt 179,984 new skills, which is more than double the number of skills learnt the month prior. This was a huge achievement by all those who participated.
Many teachers believe that the Challenge had a positive impact on their students’ engagement with mathematics over the period.
Runner-up, Rachel Wilson, from the Hunter School of Performing Arts commented:
The Challenge increased [student] motivation significantly to work harder and achieve more mastery points. I found the least confident students made the most effort to increase their weekly personal best point scores. The atmosphere in the room was electric during Mathspace time!
On the last last weekend [of the Challenge] I received a couple of emails from students asking if they could please have more tasks!
The overall winner was Year 5 teacher, Sally Green, from Haileybury in Victoria. Ms Green received $10,000 cash for her school, dinner with mathematics personality Adam Spencer, and an entrepreneur student workshop with FiftySix Creations.
Mr Jebara commented:
We’re extremely happy to see that Ms Green took first place. Her year 5 students demonstrated the highest average growth for the period. I have no doubt that they achieved such an incredible result thanks to their determination and hard work.
It’s especially exciting to see that our winning students are an all-girl class. With such a large gender divide in school mathematics participation, it was great to see an all-girl class win. Hopefully this marks the start of their ongoing dedication and enthusiasm for the field of mathematics.
Sally Green said that her students were buzzing about their win:
I am so proud of how motivated my girls were to do well. As their teacher, the additional revision of mathematical concepts and their growth across the curriculum was the real win from this challenge, however, a big prize is always nice!
Samantha, a Year 5 student from runner-up school, Rose Park, perfectly summarized the impact of the Challenge on students’ mindsets:
By having Mathspace it makes maths a lot easier and I am now more passionate and love maths more than ever. Maths is not about numbers and equations, or if you can do it or not… it is about understanding.
The Top 10 Finalist Teachers in the Challenge were:
- Sally Green — Haileybury — VIC
- Addy Latisenka — Rose Park Primary School — SA
- Jen Single — Central West Leadership Academy — NSW
- Sharon Evans — Hunter School Of The Performing Arts — NSW
- Rachel Stark — Hunter School Of The Performing Arts — NSW
- Mik Adam-lobb — Hunter School Of The Performing Arts — NSW
- Jay Quince — Parkes Christian School — NSW
- Nicholas Too — Hunter School Of The Performing Arts — NSW
- Kaitlyn Walker — Haileybury — VIC
- Yajna Mahabeer — Rossmoyne Senior High School — WA