‘Power Hour’ helping Kenosha students close learning gaps

KENOSHA, Wis. — Mia Colincruz spent Monday afternoon playing after school, but not the kind you’d expect a second grader to play.

It wasn’t a video game or an app on a tablet; It was a game called Number Line Race, and the goal was to cross the finish line before your partner, using math.

“You have to spin a roulette wheel and you have to roll the dice. Once I say subtract numbers, you will look at your number line and subtract those two numbers,” Colincruz explained.

She said the game “let’s learn more” about how numbers work and how to add and subtract by moving the game piece up and down the line.

Colincruz is at the Kenosha Power Hour program at Curtis Strange Elementary School. She and other students can stay after school for an hour to gain more confidence in their math skills.

It is something that affected students during the pandemic.

“It’s been really hard because sometimes they’re just not sure or afraid to answer because they don’t want to look like they’re wrong,” said Lisa Webb, a third-grade teacher at Curtis Strange Elementary. “So we’ve really been working on trust and just letting them know, we’re going step by step, and I think that’s really helped them.”

Colin Cruz is not alone. First through third grade students who have struggled with math participate in the program.

Third grader Juliana Lee Berry worked on flashcards on Monday after school.

“I like to see the numbers and I don’t know them, so I add them up in my head or on my fingers, so it helps me a lot better,” Berry said.

That is the goal of the Hour of Power.

Students who are behind and not as confident in their math skills can get one-on-one attention without the added stress of the rest of the class around them.

It’s something teachers like Webb and Monica Gombar enjoy.

“I feel like I’ve gotten to know these guys a lot better, and I already know their strengths and weaknesses, whereas in the classroom there are 20 of them,” Gombar said. “Being more one-on-one and focusing on these math facts is only going to make them stand out.”
Students are tested weekly after each unit. If they’re ready to move on, they do, but if not, that’s fine. If they are not ready, they will get extra time in the same unit to make sure they are confident before moving on to the next lesson.

“We take that and say, ‘Okay, what do we really need to teach them so they can get through that?’ You know, if they’re just sticking with the math and they really need a good grip, I think this is what’s going to help them,” Gombar said.

The school, which ran a similar reading program last year, is confident it can help close pandemic-related learning gaps so these students exceed expectations.

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