Principal Wendy Roselinsky and Math Coach Deborah Hodler are looking forward to watching the students at Jay W. Jeffers Elementary School boost their math skills even higher this 2013-2014 school year. Thanks to a partnership between Verizon and the non-profit MIND Research Institute, a $24,000 Verizon grant aims to leverage the power of mobile technology to better equip students with early math skills.
"Verizon is committed to improving education and creating a brighter future for students by harnessing the power of today’s technology,” said Gene Eng Verizon vice-president of external affairs. “Through our partnership with MIND Research Institute, we’re able to expand access to touch technology on ST Math – a proven education program that is already making a difference in the lives of students at Jeffers Elementary School.”
Principal Roselinsky knows how fortunate Jeffers is to have a school full of teachers following their passion and coming to work every day because they are fully dedicated to helping kids. Because the teachers give so much of themselves, Principal Roselinsky and Hodler want to ensure the teachers have the best, most supportive teaching tools available. In a K-5 school with 755 students, where many are learning English for the first time, great tools are essential.
To support student mastery in mathematics, Jeffers chose ST Math a few years back through the Las Vegas Math Initiative, gradually working to fully implement it for all grades. Last year they went school-wide with the 5th graders working daily on iPads in their classrooms, thanks to the Verizon grant, and all other grades spending at least two periods per week in the computer lab working with JiJi the penguin, on their appropriate math skills. It has become such a significant part of the school curriculum, which the kindergarten students relinquished to simply calling Hodler “JiJi” throughout the year.
The ST Math program is building math fluency among students at Jeffers by connecting the math and algebraic concepts to visual pictures that the students can understand. It also gives the students more practice time at a pace that allows the students to truly internalize their learning. Even after a few years of using the program, the Jeffers faculty spent 15 professional development hours at the end of this last year, really thinking through and perfecting the best practices for using ST Math with the students. They are finding the deeper immersed they all are in the program, the better results they get. Last year, not only did every student achieve their state AYP in math but school achievement raised from 77% to 78%.
The 5th graders at Jeffers had such great success with ST Math inside the classroom last year using iPads, that this year the Jeffers expands the reach to even more students. Ninety iPads have been purchased which will give the school enough to have both 4th and 5th grade 1:1, using the ST Math app for touch devices, (login required) throughout the day. (Non-ST Math users can experience two ST Math games on their tablets, Big Seed and Kick Box.) Having the iPad at their disposal automatically ups the time spent engaged in math since students can pick up the iPad any time: if their seat work is finished, if there’s a few minute lag time between classes, if they are waiting for other students to finish assignments, etc. “Right now this is the technology most engaging for the kids, because it’s update. Touch is so cool because this is their world! Touch is intuitive for kids - it’s a format kids like and are comfortable which is awesome,” says Principal Roselinsky.
Principal Roselinsky shared the story of a 5th grade student, not so fond of school, but his class worked on ST Math first thing every morning. Although at first he would refuse to go school, as the weeks passed he started to look forward to having access to ST Math featuring touch on the iPad. By the end of the year, he completely changed his attitude about school, apologized to his teacher for giving her a hard time and actually learned to love coming to school each day.
"Expanding access to high-quality programs that feature touch technology is one way we can increase student enthusiasm for learning,” said Verizon’s Eng. “We’re pleased to see this working at Jeffers, and expect to see this translating into greater numbers of students excelling in science, technology, engineering and math – the STEM fields that are critical to our future.”
Having 4th as well as 5th grade students work on iPads this year will mean more lab time available for the younger grades. This year 3rd grade classrooms have a set of 8 iPads to use as centers or rotate through the students. Overall, student access to the ST Math program will be much higher than in the past years and excitement definitely fills the air at Jeffers as they look forward to seeing student success grow.
Alison Anderson is Managing Editor at Getting Smart, an education advocacy company. Follower her on Twitter at @tedrosececi
About the Author
MIND Research Institute welcomes guest blogs that highlight best practices in math education, blended learning and innovative learning strategies that inspire students at all ages.