Mineola Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler proudly displayed a copy of the recent “Time for Kids” issue featuring district students and the technology initiatives in their classrooms.
“Practically every district on the island gets these for their kids so all the children in all our neighboring districts will be reading about us as they do their weekly lesson in Time for Kids,” he said, seizing the opportunity to update the board of education about the status of other technology projects during the February 2 meeting at the Willis Avenue School.
“It’s something to be very proud of. Our kids really represent us well and we’re very proud of them, very proud of the teachers; we did not solicit this, they called us and they also happened to come on a day that they were dissecting a heart – I think it was a sheep heart.”
Seventh grade teacher Jennifer Maichin’s class was featured in the issue and had coincidentally invited her brother, a doctor, to come in and work with the class on the dissection “and lo and behold Time for Kids shows up on that day so it all kind of fell into place there,” the superintendent said.
The superintendent also reported that he had held a meeting on February 2 with E-Spark, one of the methods being used to match student achievement with the technology, which is currently running in two classrooms, one in fifth grade and one in seventh grade.
The company creates individualized applications for students using NWEA scores, finding what areas students need to improve upon and downloads apps which work on the skill needed to be improved. The starting point is determined in the beginning of the year when students receive a target goal as part of the NWEA exam.
“Every student gets a different app for them that asks them to do different things,” Dr. Nagler said, reporting that gains in the seventh grade class “were off the charts. There were 143 percent gain in the goal area for the seventh grade students.”
In addition to piloting the E-Spark program, the district is also set to launch a trial of a similar website in the third and fourth grade.
“The real beauty of these is on the teacher side, the teacher’s get something called a ‘dashboard’ so the teachers can see every student and the work they’re doing; the amount of time they spend on the device, the questions they answer, the number of questions they get wrong, the number of questions they get right so it is a smooth transition to in my mind, homework,” the superintendent said. “Homework in the future should be individualized and fun for kids and this is what we’re moving towards.”
Sixth grade teacher Vincent Interrante is also piloting another program with a dashboard in the Khan Academy. Dr. Nagler said he hopes next year to have dashboard program for teachers in all grades three to seven. “We’re very close to doing it now,” he said, “so by next year I’m fairly confident we can deliver that.”