May 10, 2019

Mini Musings- Understanding Noetic Math

By Melinda Kaufman

Noetic Math is a math enrichment program offered through the Noetic Learning organization. It offers students challenging problems that develop and strengthen logical reasoning and creative problem solving skills; it requires perseverance, a growth mindset, and students are often pushed out of their comfort zone to think in different ways. We began incorporating Noetic Math in our 2nd-5th grade curriculum a few years ago. There are two parts to Noetic - the weekly assignments targeted to specific grades, which teachers use in various ways within their classrooms, and then the biannual contest offered in the fall and spring, which is overseen by myself and supported by teachers.

The goal of the Noetic Math contest is to inspire students' interest in math and convey the message, “it’s cool to be good at math!” The test is designed to be challenging; students are given 45 minutes to solve 20 problems, and they only receive credit for correct answers. Students receive an individual score, and then their results are compared to other students who participate nationally. Students who score in the top 50% of all participants in each grade receive an “Honorable Mention” certificate, and students who score in the top 10% of all participants in each grade receive a “National Honor Roll” medal. The student who has the highest score in each grade receives a “Team Winner” medal.

Participating in the contest is completely optional; we recognize that the contest may not appeal to every student. Some students take it once and opt not to take it again; many students choose to participate every year because they enjoy the challenge and often want to try to improve their score. We celebrate students’ efforts and desire to participate; it is not necessarily about winning or receiving national recognition, although we certainly celebrate those results as well.

We recently met with students to share the results from the Spring 2019 contest. More than 34,000 students from 776 schools across the nation participated in the Spring contest. McGillis had 144 students in the 2nd-5th grades participate; this represents 75% of the total number of 2nd-5th graders. Last November, 63% of our 2nd-5th graders participated in the Fall contest. This spring, we had 60 students earn “Honorable Mention” (top 50%), 6 students earn “National Honor Roll” (top 10%), 30 students participating for the first time, and 71 students who improved their scores from last fall. We are proud of all of our students who participated!