Math for a few dollars more

Costa Mesa High teacher Marcus Franco awards fundraised cash as incentives in his math classes.

June 14, 2010|By Julie Hagy
  • Costa Mesa High School math teacher Marcus Franco, left, congratulates student Veronica Ebergenyi, 14, after she pulled a note worth $100 out of a box during the "Math Grab" fundraiser on Friday.
Costa Mesa High School math teacher Marcus Franco, left,… (KENT TREPTOW, DAILY…)

Paying attention in Marcus Franco's class pays off.

Students in his Algebra I classes at Costa Mesa High School culminated a year-long accountability project last week by collectively pulling $4,200 out of a "money grab box." The box contained currency amounts ranging from 25 cents to $100, and students earned draws from it for their test scores, attendance records and paying attention in class. Each paper dollar was inscribed with a dollar amount that could be redeemed for real cash later that afternoon.

The classroom was filled with cupcakes, soda and anticipation as classmates filed to the front of the room on Friday. They took turns donning a blindfold and reaching into the money box.

"I'm hoping for at least $100 — money for new shoes," said freshman Ryan Perez, 14, as he waited for his turn.

"I've been doing really good in class and I wanted to do well all year so I could get lots of draws," said Ryan. "This class combines something I wasn't really into with something I am," he added, eyeing his sneakers and smiling.


A classmate ahead of him drew two consecutive $100 bills from the box.

"Unbelievable! Two-hundred and ninety-two is a record," Franco exclaimed, as teenagers started putting in requests to go shopping with the winner. This is the fifth year that Franco conducted the project.

"Seventy-three percent of my students are advancing in math next year," said Franco, crediting the accountability project as a big factor in that success. "I'm a firm believer in creating relevance to life in middle-school and high-school math. This project allows immediate positive and negative reinforcement and has a real-life application," said Franco.

He has his students keep track of their draws throughout the year by maintaining a "gradecheckbook" of "Franco Dollars," which can be cashed in for draws at the end of the year. In the system, dollars are not only earned, but also deducted for tardiness, inattentiveness, incomplete homework and low test scores.

In addition, the gradecheckbook helps students keep track of their grade, which is also based on the accumulation of Franco Dollars.

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