• September 20, 2014

Technology used to boost student math skills

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Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 4:30 am

House Creek Elementary School interventionists have come up with a great way to use technology as a means to help students boost their math skills.

“Intervention is a way to fill in student-learning gaps,” said Carolyn Jackson, lead interventionist at the school. “So we are trying to address student needs using another learning modality.”

Jackson and four of her peers recently purchased eight iPads and mathematics apps with grant funds acquired through the Copperas Cove Education Foundation.

Students will be able to do a variety of hands-on activities and work through their math facts to improve their fluency rates.

“As they get into a higher grade level it is harder for them to grasp the higher-thinking math concepts if they haven’t mastered their math facts,” Jackson said.

Many strategies can be implemented when helping students excel in math basics, including the use of manipulatives, which can be done with technology or in a traditional manner.

The use of manipulatives can involve stacking Lego pieces in 10s to illustrate the 10s column of a long-addition problem or placing square tiles next to each other to illustrate area, Jackson said.

Virtual manipulatives are used in the same way as traditional methods; they are merely digital objects that resemble physical objects and are manipulated on screen.

Jameel Fields, a retired Army veteran who is a tutor at the Copperas Cove Boys & Girls Club, said he sees children who can work a cellphone or an iPad, but have a hard time spelling without spell check or adding and subtracting without using a calculator.

“I agree that in some situations it is helpful. Whenever you use technology sparingly, then it can be a useful tool,” Fields said.

“However, to solve problems manually has become a lost art, because everyone’s looking for the easy way or the easy fix. The problem is if you lean too much on technology you can forget how to do things manually with pen and paper.”

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