New Technology Boosts Math in Baldwin Schools

12:51 AM, Feb 11, 2010   |    comments
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Teaching is a labor of love for Oak Hill Middle seventh grade teacher Sonya Banks, one that's constantly shifting in this world of technology.

"They're used to the technology.  They're used to cell phones they're used to computers," said Banks.

According to Oak Hill Middle School Assistant Principal Monica Hill, Baldwin County Schools received a $269,000 grant that brought smart boards, computers, and other equipment into 17 math classrooms at Oak Hill Middle and Baldwin High Schools.  An equation that Banks and Hill say can only equal success.

"We're gonna have to compete , so let's compete with what is out in society and bring it into the classroom to engage our students," said Hill.

"The students are more involved, more engaged in the lessons," added Banks.

Hill says the money paid for new classroom electronics like netbooks, or small mini-computers, projectors, and Promethean interactive white-boards.   It also purchased learner response tools called ActiVotes, and interactive tools called ActivSlates and ActivTablets.

The ActivSlates and ActivTablets, both portable devices, allow teachers to plan and students to participate in lessons from all over the classroom, without leaving their desks. 

 

Teachers use ActiVotes, a hand-held devices that allows students to respond to questions with several answer choices. 

Classes do warm-ups to start off class with the tool, but teachers can also takes polls from the students in the middle of a lesson as well.   The ActiVotes shows which students choose each answer choice and how much of the class responded correctly to a question.

 

Some teachers can use the responses as a way to help students understand why an answer is incorrect, or to gauge the class' knowledge of a topic immediately.

 

If you ask the students, some will tell you they've noticed a difference in their classrooms from the new technology too.

"I think it makes the discussion better between students.  If we don't agree on something or we didn't do a problem right, somebody else can help us," said eighth-grade student Jasmine Cowart.

"I think we're learning more and participating more because not only is it more active, but since it's not dull then students are more libel to pay more attention then just dose off and or go away somewhere into another world," said Tyler Thomas, another eighth-grader.

Seventh-grader Trevan Gresham says the new classroom tools help make student more comfortable.

"Some people don't raise their hands, but with the new technology they don't have to raise their hands.  They'll go up on a board and do a problem or use their ActiVotes," he said.

Hill says a recent accreditation review found more students enjoyed learning about numbers because of the new additions.

"They asked them what is your favorite subject and the majority of them said math and they said why, because of the technology," said Hill.

Still, you might wonder how the new hands-on hardware affected school stats.  Hill says a benchmark assessment of sixth-grade math students showed a 25 percent increase in performance compared to this time last year.   A rise the school attributes to new technology, that gets more hands in the air.  

Hill says the grant provided for the middle and high schools to encourage cooperation and improve students transitions between the schools.

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