This weekend, fourth, fifth and sixth grade students from across the Saugus Union School District (SUSD) participated in the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s (LACOE) annual Math Field Day event at Azusa Pacific University.
From SUSD, student teams included a fourth grade team from Bridgeport Elementary, a fifth grade team from Bridgeport Elementary and a sixth grade team from West Creek Academy. The teams were led by Kim Baljet, a fifth grade teacher at Bridgeport, and Susan Karzin, a sixth grade teacher at West Creek.
Math Field Day acts as an enrichment activity to promote mathematical reasoning, teamwork and balanced mathematics curriculum for all students in fourth grade to eighth grade, according to the LACOE website.
Students demonstrate their math knowledge through competition in the areas of computation and procedural skills, conceptual understanding and problem solving.
Mary Mann, principal of Plum Canyon Elementary School Principal, said this was the second year the district participated at the county level and that students placed in every category of the competition, which included teams from 35 other school districts.
“In our district we’ve really been focusing on math and the conceptual understanding and coupling that with 21st-century collaboration skills,” Mann said.
All three SUSD teams placed silver for conceptual understanding category in the competition. The fourth and sixth grade team also placed gold for the problem solving category and the sixth grade team placed bronze in the procedural computational skills category.
The sixth grade team was also named one of the top three overall teams competing in Los Angeles County.
“This is reflective of the strong mathematical instructional that goes on throughout the Saugus District,” Mann said.
Following the event, students also participated in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workshop where local high school students shared their science and engineering demonstrations with the public.
According to Mann, SUSD is one of the only districts in the valley to hold their own districtwide Math Field Day and participate in the Los Angeles County Math Field Day event.
SUSD’s Math Field Day
To select teams for LACOE’s Math Field Day competition, the Saugus District hosts their own annual Math Field Day competition at Plum Canyon Elementary each year.
For 15 years, students have competed in their own school math competitions—which include an assessment, classroom achievement measures, standardized test performance and collaborative skills—before competing in the districtwide Math Field Day.
“All students districtwide participate in a math event. It’s a common core rigorous math assessment and it’s layered,” Mann said. “Every student has the opportunity to access or have a chance of becoming part of the Math Field Day team.”
One of the most important elements is the use of 21st century skills and collaboration, where students must make models, justify their answers and work as a team.
“They have to be able to work with other students to solve math problems and justify what solutions they used to solve those problems,” Mann said.
Each of the district’s 15 school sites then uses math field day coaches to instruct students on how to solve a multilayered math problem, just as they would at the LACOE’s Math Field Day event.
“Those problems are based on Common Core State Standards,” Mann said. “They’re timed because at the Math Field Day event this four-member team has just 30 minutes to solve a math problem and justify how they solved it and, in some cases, solve it in multiple ways.”
Each school’s team is then scored in various categories to determine which grade-level team will represent the district and the county event.
“We’re all about equity. Each school has the same materials to prepare from and the same materials to prepare,” Mann said. “The difference is between two to three points.”
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