Archive for the ‘Math’ Category

By Kristine Funk
Cougar News Blog

     Some Cactus Canyon math students went on a safari to learn about numbers, decimals, and percents.
     Rachel Mangum and Tina Jada’s math classes recently had a video conference with the Saint Louis Zoo to learn about math and animals. The instructor gave many different examples relating to math, but also related to animals, and gave them problems to solve.
     “I think that because it was something they could relate to they tried really hard to figure out the math,” said Mangum.
     The learning objective was about decimals and percents, and the video instructor gave examples such as how many times a falcon would be successful capturing prey under a variety of circumstances.
     The Mathimals program is something the St. Louis Zoo offers to schools across America and it includes live animals, hands-on activities, and videos to show how math is important to the zoo and the world.
     The class plans on doing it again in January, but instead of a zoo, they will learn along with a musician. Mangum hopes that students will be able to see that math is used everywhere, and not just in school.
     “I had my students reflect on the experience and they said that they really enjoyed it,” Mangum said.
     Students say that the conference has helped them understand the subject more, and they also learned a thing or two about animals.
     “It was amazing,” said Kristen Baker. “I learned more about the animals there.”


Marla award

By Natalie Delintt
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon’s Marla Aehlert won an award for Excellence in Education because a former student nominated her on 99.9 KEZ radio.
     Yasinya Peterson, one of Aehlert’s former students, nominated her for the award. She won for the month of November 2015 and received a plaque that has her name and an apple on it, two certificates, and a check for $99.
     “The award made me feel fantastic,” said Aehlert. “I felt very loved.”
     KEZ’s Marty Manning came to CCJH to surprise Aehlert with Courtney Castelhano and Peterson in tow. The trio gave Aehlert her prizes while students took videos and pictures to capture the moment.
     “They came to my room on Monday, Nov. 9, and surprised me in the middle of fourth hour,” said Aehlert.
     Peterson chose to nominate Aehlert because she had her as her math teacher in third grade and again in seventh grade. She wanted Aehlert to know the difference she has made in her’s and other’s lives.
     “I nominated her because she is a devoted teacher. She always does her best to help her students and she’s always got a smile on her face that you can’t help but smile back at,” said Peterson.
     Peterson nominated Aehlert when she heard on the radio that a student could nominate a teacher they’ve had and then she went on a website to submit her.
     Though Peterson told Aehlert she had nominated her, Aehlert didn’t think she would actually win. So, the surprise of people coming in her room in the middle of fourth hour one day really was a surprise.
     “When Yasinya told me that she had nominated me, I thought that was super sweet of her to do, and I told her that,”said Aehlert. “It never crossed my mind that they would actually choose me to win the award.”

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By Pauline Harner
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon’s Cindy Wilson had a Cougar Cafe on Oct. 15 for her third, fourth, sixth, and seventh hours. Cougar Cafe was a way for Mrs. Wilson to teach her students about tax, tip, and discounts. She was pretending that her classroom was a restaurant and she was serving fake pizza, cookies, and chips.
     Mrs. Wilson had a few tables for two set up in her classroom. She had Courtney Castelhano, Chad Cantrell, Connie Earl, Lisa Smith, Patricia Shaw, and Thomas Mattausch.
     “I chose to use modeling because when you role play, students tend to retain information better,” said Mrs. Wilson. “It engages my students and aids in student ‘buy in’ to the lesson.”
     At the beginning of the lesson Mrs. Wilson had students working on their mindset while she sat the guests down at a table. She served the guests fake food to teach students how to figure tax and tip when getting take out.
     “(I) transformed my classroom into the Cougar Cafe today. Students were engaged and excited as teachers came to eat at the cafe during our class and watched me serve them,” Wilson said later that day on Facebook. “Some were pleasant, some belligerent, some big tippers, some not so much.”
     While guests were eating Mrs. Wilson engaged the students in an academic discussion of what they saw in the picture and in the cafe. They discussed how the work they do directly impacts the tip they earn.
     “My hope was that they would understand that when you go out to eat, you have to be prepared to pay more than for just your food,” said Mrs. Wilson. “You have to pay tax, and if at a sit-down restaurant, you have to pay tip.”
     Students enjoyed seeing “customers” acting out different situations.
     “I thought it was funny and it kept my interest,” said seventh-grade student Bailey Tower.

By Elisabeth H.
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon Junior High School is doing a thing called reteach to help students get the extra help they need in a certain subject.
     Students take a test after a math or language arts objective has been taught and those who need more time to master the standard get it during their Study Skills time. Reteach has helped many students master objectives they might not have learned before.
     “I want my students to have a better grasp of the math concepts that they didn’t score as well on the first time,” said math teacher Marla Aehlert. “I hope that they will see reteach as a valuable tool to help them accomplish them.”
     In all, there are seven teachers doing reteach, four in eighth grade and three in seventh grade. The students are able to see alternative ways to learn the material in a smaller, less distracting setting.
     “They are able to focus more and receive the assistance they need to earn better grades,” said eighth-grade math teacher Jeremy Seaman.
     There have been some adjustments to reteach since it’s a new program, but overall it’s been successful in getting students extra help. For example, students who don’t need reteach take classes like cooking, CSI, or modern warfare.
     “I also like the fact that students who do not need reteach are allowed to sign up for interesting enrichment classes with the other teachers,” said Mrs. Aehlert. “It’s not just boring study hall. I wish it would have been like that when I was in junior high a long time ago.”
     The math teachers have a shared document that has all of the students’ scores for the whole grade level.
     “We filter out students who earned a score of four or five, and the remaining students will need reteach,” said Mrs. Aehlert.
     Some teachers teach different in reteach than in different classes to help them understand the material better.
     “Sometimes we do,” Mr. Seaman said. “We expose the students to alternative ways to think about or solve the problems.”
     Students have found reteach helpful for learning better.
     “I am grateful for reteach because it has really helped me improve on my math a lot,” said eighth grader Angel Meeks.

By Logan D.
Cougar News Blog

Cactus Canyon is booking up a new school year with Beyond Textbooks, a new program to bring out the best of Cactus Canyon.
Beyond Textbooks is a program that originated in the Vail Unified School District in Vail, Ariz. Essentially, BT is a program to maximize student achievement. It tells teachers what objective to teach, how long to teach it, and offers optional resources to help teachers find the best way to teach it.
When teachers go onto the curriculum site for their specific grade, they are presented a curriculum calendar and resources to help students master each objective. The calendar is the same for all teachers of a subject, but teachers can provide instruction in their specific style, that way teachers don’t have to be uncomfortable while teaching.
BT is an organized program, but teachers need to know if their students are understanding what they’re teaching. That’s where the common formative comes in. The common formative is a small, five-question test given usually at the end or beginning of the week. Its purpose is to see if the student has a grasp on the subject. If the student gets a four or five out of five then they have passed their formative and they’ve mastered the subject. If students get a three or less then they have to go to reteach, which is where students go if they have not mastered the subject. Teachers then get more one-on-one time with the student. After the lesson has been retaught, the student will retake their formative to see if they have mastered the subject yet.
“The BT framework will help get students the help and support they need with math and language arts,” said Principal Courtney Castelhano. ‘Students will be given weekly formatives to check for mastery. If students need more help, they will receive it during Study Skills time with objectives they need more help with. If they did well on the weekly formative, then students will receive an enriched Study Skills involving a variety of subjects.”
One reason BT improves schools who use it is connection. The teachers at CCJH can see what other teachers across the state are doing in their classrooms. Other teachers can post what lessons were a success or failure in their classroom Teachers at CCJH are utilizing these tips from other successful teachers to improve their own students and give them a better chance at success.
“Cactus Canyon adopted the Beyond Textbooks program as another tool for us as educators to better educate the students that come to this school and prepare them for high
school,” said math teacher Jeremy Seaman. “The program provides many useful tools, examples, and resources from other teachers around the state that we as educators here can use in our own classrooms.”
Cactus Canyon adopted BT partly because the school’s rating is at a C. CCJH wants to be better than a C, and some schools who have adopted the BT program have gone from a D to an A. AJUSD believes that the framework will help with student success. BT keeps everything organized,which helps make everything easier for both teachers and students. It is a very strict program and it uses Common Core standards.
“BT gives students more responsibility over their learning by knowing how they did on their weekly formative and receiving more help if they need it,” said Castelhano. “Students can feel successful over their learning by knowing exactly how they do every week in each of their core classes.”
BT helps teachers by breaking down everything that going to be taught, it will help improve Cactus Canyon and make each and every one of the students productive.
“The whole district adopted Beyond Textbooks because it helps to keep everyone organized and at the same place,” said eighth-grade math teacher Marla Aehlert. Also, other districts that have used Beyond Textbooks have had great results.”

By Megan Lay
Cougar News Blog

National Junior Honor Society has decided to tutor students who need help with any school subject. Students in the organization are available to help with the four core classes, along with some electives.
They started tutoring Nov. 1 and the Thursday sessions are still going on.
Brittany Wilson, NJHS member said, “I like tutoring others because it’s fun. I get the feeling of satisfaction from helping others.”
NJHS wanted to offer tutoring because there was a need for students to get help in certain subjects, like math and reading.
NJHS adviser Lisa Smith said, “There was a need for students to receive extra help in subjects that are difficult for them to master.”
While students that come for tutoring get help with homework and projects, members of NJHS receive service hours for tutoring. Those in NJHS are required to do 20 such hours to be eligible for the Disneyland trip at the end of the year.
Another large reason they are tutoring the students are because many of them are missing a lot of assignments.
Smith said, “Many students just need extra time to complete projects and activities that are assigned and due.”
Tutoring has already affected students, though it has also affected teachers because their students grades are improving.
Carol Dolle said, “I would like more students to take advantage of this service. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get help from someone that has the perspective of having been a student.”

By Ashley Renowden
Staff writer

Most students really don’t like tests, but they are a necessary and helpful tool to help guide their education. Students at Cactus Canyon have recently wrapped up their final round of benchmark testing.
Benchmarks, which are conducted three times each year, help teachers and administrators identify which concepts students know well and which ones need reteaching.
Data is examined after each set of tests and curriculum is adjusted accordingly.
Testing was conducted May 14-16 and covered science, math, and reading skill.
Language arts teacher Gwen Phifer knows that kids don’t usually like testing, but also knows that they are supposed to be a positive thing. She thinks students should feel the same way since they have learned the material already.
“Benchmark tests should have a positive impact on students,” said Mrs. Phifer. “Because it should be easy for them to see how much they are able to understand.”
Eighth grader Jordan Golemon thinks that the benchmarks are a good way for teachers to see how the students are doing. For Golemon to impress her teachers, and show them what she knows, she takes her time and does things in advance to prepare herself.
“I prepare by making sure I study,” said Golemon. “I try to sleep more so I can be well-rested and ready to test.”
Math teacher Maryanne Galvan said math benchmark scores are rising, which she believes is a result of the technology and one-to-one learning.
“The students have netbooks which allows practice to happen in the forms of games, at their own pace,” said Galvan.

By Jessica Kraps and McKenna Commans
Staff writers

Cactus Canyon Junior High has been having a Study Island contest during the second semester and some hard-working students are about to be rewarded the big prize – a pool party during the school day.
About 40 students have earned a trip to the party so far, but Tina Jada, the sponsor of the contest, said she was hoping for about 55.
Students have been earning prizes since January based on the number of ribbons they have on each subject in Study Island.
The higher the percent of blue ribbons they have earned, the more prizes they have received.
Students earning blue ribbons in 20 percent of the objectives for science, language arts, or math received a candy bar.
Those earning 40 percent of the blue ribbons were entered into a drawing for a movie ticket. Getting 60 percent of the blue ribbons earned a T-shirt that puts students in front of the lunch line.
When students got to 80 percent of blue ribbons they gon an invite to the end-of-the-year Study Island pool party.
Study island is an online program that gives students the opportunity to review objectives for a test or just to keep their minds refreshed. It also gives them the option to do that while playing games. It asks questions using the objectives for AIMS and asks them with the same type of verbiage and vocabulary that are on the test.
Being allowed to study independently and answer questions at a student’s own pace allows time to get it right and show full understanding of the objective.
“I totally think this has helped the students prepare for AIMS,” said Mrs. Jada.
The contest ends May 15 and the pool party will be May 17.

By Kyle Sanor
Staff writer

As the end of the year approaches, all students have to face one of their final test of the year. No, it is not a benchmark or a pop quiz.
The Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards – AIMS – is underway at Cactus Canyon and students are eager and nervous upon the test. While it might not be their favorite thing to do, they plan to do the best they can.
“I am nervous, but I don’t want to do bad,” said eighth grader Isaac Harper. “I don’t like it, but I’ll do my best.”
AIMS began April 16 with seventh grader taking the writing portion and eighth graders taking science. Tuesday through Thursday, students in both grades will do their reading and mathematics tests.
Students will test during the first half of each day, with lunch and class following the testing session.
The school’s administrators have been looking forward to AIMS week because they believe it is the students’ chance to show how much they’ve learned during the school year.
“I absolutely love the ‘testing season,’” said Principal Larry LaPrise. “This is our opportunity to prove to the world that we are the best. I think Cactus Canyon Junior High will be better than last year. Teachers and administrators prepare daily with the lessons we provide for students.”
While teachers have been preparing students by reviewing concepts and strategies, administrators have been working hard to make sure CCJH meets all the guidelines set by the state of Arizona.
“Administrators are preparing by making sure all materials will be ready,” said Assistant Principal Joyce Gingrich. “Organizing, counting, and getting books and answer sheets ready is a huge job that takes a lot of time.”
While the scores from the tests aren’t known until the summer, there is reason to believe that Cactus Canyon will do as well or better than last year.
“Based on our two benchmark testings this year, I believe CCJH will do well,” said Mrs. Gingrich. “Students have consistently shown growth this year, and teachers and students are working very hard on standards and requirements.”

The CCJH math team won first place at the Central Arizona College Math Middle School Math Competition on Nov. 4. (Photo by Mr. Davis)

By Kelsey Martinez
Staff writer

On Nov. 4, students from Cactus Junior High took home first place at the Central Arizona’s College math competition.
In addition to the team victory, eighth grader Jordan Bell won the individual competition and teamed up with fellow eighth grader Erskine Thompson to earn second place in the group category.
All 10 students on the team have a math class at Apache Junction High School and were chosen by the pre-algebra I and II teacher, Ms. Sarah Harrison. They were chosen because of their work ethic, attitude, tests, and overall grades.
The 10 students from the junior high who went to the competition in Queen Creek were Silas Grams, Aharon Ritchey, Jordan Bell, Erskine Thompson, Larissa Armendariz, Grifyn Davis, Shianne McMinn, Kylee LaPrise, Teagan O’Reily, and Lanae Wilson.
Each school had five groups of two students compete in an initial round from which the top 18 students were selected. Then students competed in groups of two where they were given problems to solve. The top three groups and individuals earned trophies.
“They did absolutely amazing and they made all of us proud,” said Teagan O’Reilly. “I was very emotional when I was watching them compete.”
There were 10 schools total. All of which being other junior high schools in Pinal County. They included Combs, Skyline, Hohokam, and Circle Cross.
“I am so proud of each and every one of the students who participated from our school. They represented us well, and they had great attitudes, and behaved perfectly,” said Mr. Harrison. “They made me so happy.”