Elementary and middle school students recently came before the to showcase the work being done with their iPads and netbooks in the classroom using various applications for the devices and internet-based services.
“We use to benefit on our test scores and our doing well in class,” said Chris Matzur, a fifth grade student in Dee Wojis and Lisa Rivera’s class at the board’s March 1 meeting at the . The computer application presents students with algebra challenges on variables for math and word problems based on skill level. Currently, Mineola is the only district in Nassau using e-Spark and will expand the initiative from grade three through seven this month.
“E-Spark works , so when the results get put into e-Spark, it will know exactly the areas that Chris needs to reinforce and work on and it will select challenges based upon apps that are placed on his iPad so that he can reinforce the areas that he needs to work with,” principal Mark Barth said. “As he completes them, his teacher is able to see the work that he and his classmates are doing on a dashboard that she’s able to monitor the work and the progress of the students.”
Erin Miller, another student, undertook an e-Spark project when students pick one of three choices: business management, movie director/ producer or storybook, settling on the second and showed how she edited a stop-motion movie on her iPad of a cookie disappearing using 200 photos she took with the device.
“It takes a while just to make a 15 minute one,” she said. “I also used some of the apps like iMovie that will be in my upcoming challenges.”
Neil Ressa, a member of Jennifer Maichin and Caryl Salesi’s sixth grade class, showed off “Strip Design” where a series of photographs were merged together to form a booklet as part of a project presentation.
“You use lots of pictures and you talk about the things that you use,” he said.
“A lot of the beauty of this is you don’t have to know the technology, they figure it out,” Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler said of the students. “They tell us what they need.”
Student Daniel Reardon next demonstrated the Khan Academy, a math lab and in which teachers assign challenges to complete on students’ iPads. Points are awarded to the students upon completion of color-coded levels and additional suggested challenges.
“Solomon Khan designed it with kids in mind in a sequence that he thought was logical for everyone to learn,” Dr. Nagler said, noting that students can also annotate work and problems on the page.
“The teachers will work with the students and they’ll set goals for the students to select them and work on them and then once they’ve completed their goals they get new goals to work on from the recommendation of the teacher,” Dr. George Maurer said, demonstrating what the teacher sees from the dashboard control panel and noting that by Tuesday Reardon met goals for the week and Daniel had been asking for more. “I don’t know how many additional people line up and ask for additional work on Tuesday to get them to Friday; I think the motivation is evident.”
Maichin said that one of the teachers’ goals is “for the kids to know what they’re proficient in” and be proficient in five activities each day. The activities run the full gamut of skill level from basic up to AP calculus, physics and the college level.
Another student named Navarra demonstrated an app called “Show Me” to display her project on the Treaty of Paris at the end of the American Revolution. “They can demonstrate what they’ve learned in a different capacity. But they can also then create something that if there’s a student in that class that’s struggling with that area, they can go and watch that video that their own classmate has made, work with it and then again reinforce those skills,” Dr. Maurer said.
“Technology integration is not isolated here,” teacher Vincent Interrante said. “Their ability to communicate their understanding is by far at the highest level that I’ve seen while I’m here. It’s bringing the kids to a point that they can think creatively (and) solve problems using just this tool.”
As an assignment, sixth grader Christa Post had to recreate a day in her life that was important using Movie Maker - recreated a surprise party for one of her friends who was moving.
“I added pictures and video to the music into it to make a full movie,” she said. “Now with my other classes when my teachers assign me video projects I’m not that nervous about them being due because I know how to work it now and I can help other people learn how to use it.”
Further demonstrating the Khan Academy was Ryan Duffy, who is in one of Interrante’s classes which uses a point system in competition with the afternoon class on Fridays.
“We’d just flat out do it as much as we can and whoever has the most points at the end per kid would win it,” he said.
“He is working on algebraic concepts that we haven’t even broached. His improvements on the fall to the winter NWEA was simply extraordinary,” Interrante said, noting that Duffy was working on pythagorean theorem and trigonometry at 11 years old. “So he’s getting exposed to things that would normally not be done in a heterogeneous class because the ranges of the kids, they vary so greatly.”
Interrante currently assigns 20 minutes of homework of Khan Academy for homework a night. “They work on various skill sets that it’s six days a week... and its monitored weekly,” he said of the students.
Teachers also report using less time spent teaching lessons since students know and have mastered the material when they come to class.
“Solomon Khan is a big proponent of... you don’t formally teach the lesson in the classroom, the students can learn it at home and then when they come into the classroom time is better spent going deeper into the concept and deeper into the knowledge,” Dr. Nagler said. “It makes a lot of sense that if we can take NWEA data and give kids their own webpage or application to work on their own skills, that that’s what their homework should be and it’s differentiating homework with technology.”
The netbook application “One Note” allows students to take notes, record audio, insert pictures and video. “It’s almost like a notebook – it has different sections and each section has its own amount of pages,” student Alicha Healy said. “Basically anything that you can do on your netbook you can save it and put it into your One Note.”
Kaitlyn O’Donnell next showed off Google “Open Class,” a collaborative program for students and where teachers can run their classes. “It’s instantaneous collaboration,” said Interrante, who is using it in the “On Target Class.” Only personnel inside the school district have access to the program.
“It is a lot more fun this way because it is great to pitch in and work as a group,” O’Donnell said, who worked on a project on hunger issues globally, nationally and locally.
“All of our teachers will tell you that they don’t know as much as the students do about certain apps and certain things that are on their computers but that doesn’t stop the learning process and we learn from them as much as they’re learning from us so it’s really the new wave of teaching and learning,” Dr. Nagler said.