MIND Research Institute, a neuroscience and research-based education non-profit, today congratulates Los Alamitos Elementary School for winning the “15 Years of JiJi Contest” on Facebook.

On April 28th, the beloved animated penguin JiJi found in MIND’s ST Math software for K-12 students turned 15. To celebrate, MIND asked teachers to submit, in 15 words or less, what JiJi means to their students. MIND received wonderfully creative submissions in the form of haikus, songs and wonderful alliteration, which were narrowed down to 10 finalists. MIND’s Facebook community selected their favorites by “liking” the submissions.

Educator Jaime Lock’s kindergarten students’ submission received the most Facebook “likes,” taking first place. Runner ups included Seacliff Elementary in Huntington Beach, Calif. and Mann Elementary in Anaheim, Calif.

Lock’s submission reads, “JiJi means loving math and loving learning – without even knowing you’re ‘learning.’ Learning through play.”

Los Alamitos Elementary School is a Title 1 school with the majority of students on free and reduced lunch and in English Language Learning (ELL) programs. Lock adds, a number of students never attend preschool before landing in kindergarten.

“ST Math has allowed these learners to experience all areas of kindergarten math, while doing it at their own pace,” says Lock. “It has that built-in self-correcting component that ensures the children will not just click on something without learning about the why or why nots. As their teacher, I can support them, as needed, through my questioning.  I love how it is an independent learning activity that keeps these learners engaged.”

This year the school achieved an API score of 918, which is up seven points from the previous year. “Things are definitely heading in the right direction for our school,” says Lock.

“We go to the computer lab on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and [the students] know that these are their JiJi days. They are very excited to play the different games and cross the bridge to find new games,” says Lock. “They also LOVE when they get the email postcard from JiJi traveling the world!”

ST Math creator Dr. Matthew Peterson will personally visit the school for an assembly presentation with educators and students on the importance of math education. The school will also celebrate with a school-wide ice-cream social and a basket of goodies inspired by JiJi.

Lock adds, “They think that this ice cream social is the most exciting thing ever!  That is one of the reasons why I love teaching kindergarten – the pure joy and innocence!  They will think that this is the best day of their lives!”

MIND will recognize the elementary school’s students and educators again at its 2012 Annual Symposium, “Learning Without Boundaries,” June 15, 2012 in Long Beach, Calif.

“Personally, I feel so lucky this year because of the awesome classroom of children and families I have,” says Lock. “We may not have the richest families or the most parent volunteers in the District, but we have some of the most incredible families and teachers here who give everything they have.”

Mind Research Institute is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner.

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