School Spotlight: Adair County Elementary School’s Study Island Math Bowl

School Spotlight: Adair County Elementary School’s Study Island Math Bowl

A little competition never hurt anyone. In fact, it’s what motivates many athletes, business people, politicians, and more to do their very best each day! So, when Adair County Elementary School (ACES) staff members were brainstorming ways to get their students excited about using Study Island to prepare for the NWEA MAP test in math, and ultimately increase growth scores, they decided to tap into the spirit of competition. Jennifer Kemp, ACES’s curriculum specialist, had previously used competition to encourage reading within the school, and with the help of Alice Curry, the school’s technology coordinator, the ACES Math Bowl was born!

“We wanted to get the students really excited about this, so we decided to start with a YouTube video that played off the Monday Night Football theme and pep rally with the high school’s football team and cheerleaders,” explained Curry. During the pep rally, Kemp introduced the concept and contest rules to all of the students, revealing colorful scoreboards that would allow them to track their classroom’s progress. The football team and cheerleaders also prepared a special version of their team chant for the Study Island competition and performed it at the pep rally to create excitement around the upcoming competition for the elementary students. Even the head football coach joined in on the excitement and explained to ACES students how math plays a role in every football game the team plays.

ACES Study Island Math Bowl Pep Rally

The concept of the competition was simple: each Blue Ribbon a student achieved would earn the homeroom class one yard. Mirroring football rules, 100 yards would equal one touchdown. At the end of six weeks, whichever homeroom had earned the most touchdowns would be crowned the champion! And, because the contest was held between homerooms, all teachers were able to compete in the competition, not just the school’s math teachers.

“Every teacher bought into this competition,” said Kemp. “It was exciting and sometimes funny to see how competitive they all got!” Because of this buy-in, Study Island usage at ACES began to increase, and it did so quickly. “They took off with it,” Curry described. “We had parents coming in and telling us their child was asking to log in to their Study Island account at siblings’ basketball games, doctors’ appointments, at home . . . even past their bedtime!” . In fact, the number of questions answered on Study Island at ACES went from 167,600 to 310, 873 in just two months!

So, how did the school keep students engaged throughout the competition and reduce burnout? “We didn’t have a ton of funds, so we needed motivation that could be provided by teachers or local community members,” said Curry. Free and inexpensive rewards that ACES staff offered throughout the contest included a special “MVP” chair made of duct tape and an old, abandoned office chair found in storage; weekly (and, sometimes, even daily!) “Breaking Study Island News” announcements of scoreboard leaders made by the principal; and even a pizza party donated by the school’s custodian. Coming together as a community, ACES was determined to keep students excited and reward them for their progress.

Speaking of progress, after the competition was over, ACES staff crunched the numbers to see if all the hard work and effort yielded positive results. Here’s a hint—it did! “Our principal believes there was a 100% correlation with our increase in test scores to the consistent usage of Study Island,” noted Curry. ACES not only met its goals for the math MAP testing but also exceeded its projected growth by one point. And, the school isn’t done yet. ACES is striving to see even more growth, and it wants to do so by continuing to use Study Island. “Over time, [the students using Study Island] are only going to continue to improve,” said Kemp. “We’ve decided this program is going to be integral in making that happen.”

In addition to driving learning growth, the ACES Math Bowl also allowed the school  to recognize hardworking students and their homerooms in the process. After the 6-week contest period, they crowned 10 all-star Blue Ribbon winners, an MVP from each grade level, as well as one top-performing homeroom per grade level (3rd – 5th). Each homeroom won a pizza party, and the top 10 students and MVPs were awarded certificates for their efforts. Without further ado, we’d like to give a shout-out to these outstanding ACES Math Bowl winners!

Top 10 Blue Ribbon Winners:

Addie B.

Reese B.

Bradley C.

Sophie E.

Isaac H.

Jerrod P.

John S.

America V.

Jaylynn W.

Dillon W.

ACES Study Island Math Bowl Individual Winners 

Grade-Level MVPs:

Reese B.

Jaylynn W.

Dillon W.


Homeroom Winners:

Mrs. Wade’s Room

Mrs. Bradshaw’s Room

Mr. Coe’s Homeroom

ACES Study Island Math Bowl 3rd Grade Homeroom Winners

ACES Study Island Math Bowl 4th Grade Homeroom Winners

ACES Study Island Math Bow 5th Grade Homeroom Winners

In six short weeks, Adair County Elementary School’s Math Bowl not only engaged students in valuable math practice (earning an impressive 19,411 Blue Ribbons through the competition!) but also created a sense of community and encouraged students to get excited about their learning. Interested in designing your own classroom or schoolwide competition to provide a valuable extra push for your students? Check out this blog post for 6 Best Practice Tips to Design a Classroom Contest That Works!