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Teacher employs football stats to help ‘teams’ learn math

Fantasy football has real meaning for fourth- and fifth-grade math students.

“Somebody could think they’re really bad at math and go to ESPN.com and say, ‘Hey, that’s math,’ ” said Sam Casale, 10, a fifth-grader at The Campus School of Carlow University. “This is fun, and sometimes you are doing math and you don’t even realize it.”

Math teacher DeAnna Kwiecinski started fantasy football competitions in two fourth-grade and two fifth-grade classes at the prekindergarten through eighth grade Catholic school last year to help students practice basic math concepts, such as addition, subtraction, averages and percentages.

The students paired up and created fantasy teams. Casale and Sam Gatti, 11, are “The ‘S’ Men.”

Fantasy football starts with a mock players draft during which participants assemble a fictional team using real NFL players. Their weekly score is based on the players’ actual game statistics.

Kwiecinski’s students chose any two quarterbacks, kickers, running backs, tight ends, wide receivers and defenses for the season. They pick one from each set to play each week.

Each Tuesday, the students eagerly gather around four computers in their classroom to check players’ stats and then calculate points for yardage, interceptions, sacks and touchdowns. Accuracy is important because they’re competing against other fantasy teams in the class. The winner of the championship game at the end of the fantasy season will get a small prize and, of course, bragging rights.

“Usually when you’re competing, you’ll get into it because you know you could win,” Gatti said.

Kwiecinski said using fantasy football to reinforce math concepts was something she thought of while forming her own fantasy league with a few friends.

“I think any time you can get a child excited about numbers and data, then I feel like I’m doing my job,” she said.

The students learn about how determining a player’s average yardage could help them in the competition by predicting future performance. An upcoming project will be finding the percentage difference between predicted and actual yardage.

Coincidentally, “The Irish Math Wizards” team was in first place in the competition last week.

“The best part is when you see your player has done a good job and you win,” said Alex Plummer, 10, one of the wizards.

Sophia Lebiere, 10, said she’s glad she doesn’t have to watch the actual games to play.

“I don’t understand how my family likes football,” she said. “But playing fantasy football is fun.”


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