New Jersey School Creates Math Fun with First in Math “Just the Facts” Tournaments

New Jersey School Creates Math Fun with First in Math “Just the Facts” Tournaments

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, NJ—On December 18, 2018, nearly 50 third-grade students gathered in the Wedgwood Elementary School all-purpose room to participate in a First In Math Online Program JUST THE FACTS Tournament.

Students fired up their laptops and logged into First in Math—an online math-practice program that uses digital gaming to create math excitement and improve student performance—then tackled a series of five-minute sessions in the JUST THE FACTS Addition Module to see who could answer the most addition facts correctly in the shortest amount of time. Winners advanced to the next round, ready to again demonstrate their fact fluency.


Wedgwood third-graders (left to right) Noah Raberi, Alycia Dymond, Peyton Vena and Ava Powers were the final four competitors in the FIM Just the Facts Tournament of Champions.

The semifinal round saw Noah Raberi and Alycia Dymond knock out Ava Powers and Peyton Vena. In the end, Raberi narrowly edged Dymond in the championship round to claim the JTF Tournament title. Other players reaching the quarterfinals were Simone McGlinchey, Luke Heim, Sophia Watson and Aiden Blood.

Other third-graders who participated in the tournament included: Domier Abdussalaan, Catherine Aversa, Jake Bauer, Andrew Begley, Adam Borgia, Quinn Broadbelt, Jackson Chudzinski, Mackenzie Danso, Alivia Dingler, McKinley Edwards, Kara Epstein, Kaylie Garton, Ella Goehringer, Natalie Grimaldi, Fhalyn Harris, Alexa Howley, Andrew Huynh, Alexis Ingling, Max Jimenez, Kori Leacott, Matthew Male, Olivia Marchetti, Lucas McCabe, Benjamin McCloskey, Alayna McComb-Carstarphen, Kali Messick, Judah Nalbandian, Colin Proffitt, Connor Rainey, Devon Stott, Ejon Viray, Augustin Wezet, Luke Wheat, Aidan Wood, and KaiQi Yuan.

The tournament idea was created and organized by Wedgwood Math Specialist Domenick Renzi. “It was so simple, the event itself was actually pretty easy for Math Teacher Autumn Mattera and I to manage,” says Renzi, who recommends that others try their approach. “The student with the highest score in the quickest amount of time advances to the next round. A large bracket board was updated at the end of each round. Students simply found their next opponent, logged into the First In Math JUST THE FACTS 10x10 Addition module, and began to solve. Single elimination rounds continued until a champion was crowned.” Preliminary rounds included three students, as there were more than 45 participants. 

In the weeks before an event, Renzi promoted it on morning announcement broadcasts. "I remember saying things like: Get ready 3rd graders! The First in Math Just the Facts Tournament of Champions is coming," laughs Renzi. In addition, each teacher received a sign-up sheet to place in their classroom. “We gave students a week to decide if they wanted to sign up, then collected names of those interested and created a Tournament bracket.”

The event was a success because the students had fun, and also became more fluent in their addition facts, according to Renzi, who adds that the only downside is that his approach is not really audience-friendly—yet. “Because it is a computer-based game, the audience cannot watch live results as each student plays. But we did send out a press release, and we use Twitter regularly to keep parents and the community abreast of the many math happenings in our school.”

The initial test-run was a smaller, 4th grade JTF Multiplication Tournament held in November that saw 28 students put their love of math—and their knowledge of multiplication—to the test. It ended in a tie, as Andy Nelson watched his opponent, Evan Eschenbach, finish up with a score of 99 out of 100. Nelson was declared the overall winner, because he finished his round in less time. He earned a JUST THE FACTS Championship Certificate and special Anniversary Edition of the 24® Game for his efforts.


Wedgwood fourth-graders (left to right), Andy Nelson and Evan Eschenbach shake hands.

Students reaching the ‘Elite Eight’ were Nelson, Eschenbach, Michael Ilagan, Nolan Rollins, Eleanor Lawyer, Colin Boyle, Andrew Robinson, and Justin Taylor. Other competitors included: Mason Hatton, Brianna Rainey, Zachary Clark, Jacob McFarland, Jadeson Truong, Mia Taxis, Jowell Crawford, Olivia Sutton, Emerson Perez, Lyric Porter, Luke Ridgeway, Nyla Conrad, Melanie Liguori, Ryan Crean, Ava Deccio, Andrew Deich, Mykaela Fogg, Lillyanna Jones, Kendall Spera, and Heidi Stemetzki.

In January 2019, Renzi is conducting a tournament for 2nd grade students, and plans to continue to hold one JTF Tournament each month for the various grade levels at Wedgwood ES.


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