Today in Mrs. Davis’ Algebra class, students continued learning about graphing linear equations using the web program BuzzMath.com. As a result of this additional instruction and practice, all students in her class demonstrated mastery of the topic earning a gold star. On BuzzMath.com, the gold star is earned by getting all 10 questions completely correct. This program allows students to learn from their mistakes, make corrections, and demonstrate their understanding by giving them different problems.
When Mrs. Davis and I attended the 2011 Association of Mathematics Teachers of New York State (AMTNYS) conference in Rochester, New York, back in October, we talked with representatives from BuzzMath.com. They showed us their program and explained how it differed from other online programs, such as Aleks and Castle Learning. Impressed with what we saw, we decided to try it in her class. According to buzzmath.com, “BuzzMath is the best way to practice your middle school math skills. It’s fun, it has immediate detailed feedback and examples that allow you to progress at your own pace.” It should be noted that it has many topics that are in the High School Algebra Common Core Standards.
Mrs. Gross and Mrs. Davis are meeting the needs of their English as a Second Language (ESL) students in their Algebra/Geometry Connections classes by translating their notes, assignments, and assessments into different languages. The teachers took the assignments that they currently use in the class and translated the languages to Spanish and Russian using Google Translate. This free, online service is very easy to use and can be an effective tool to use for ESL students. The students commented that the translations were accurate and helpful. When asked if they wanted the teachers to continue to translate their work, they said “Yes definitively.”
Athena High School teachers Lisa Gross and Kelly Davis have pushed themselves outside of their comfort zone in order to maximize student engagement and achievement. These teachers continue to impress others with the way that they can interact and connect with students of all ability levels. Although Mrs. Gross and Mrs. Davis have achieved great success with a variety of teaching methods, they have challenged themselves to increase the use of technology in their classrooms. Understanding that all students learn differently, they began using the Aleks computer program to differentiate and meet the needs of their wide range of learners in their Algebra/Geometry Connections.
Hagerty and Smith (2005) found that students who used Aleks showed significant improvement in algebra, both short-term and long-term. This program pre-assesses students to determine their present level of mathematical competency, finds their learning patterns, and helps students to build upon their knowledge base at their own pace. By using technology in the classroom, the goal is that all students will demonstrate higher achievement on class assessments and be able to discover and discuss mathematics more effectively.
Practical Strategy: Integrate computer software, such as Aleks, into your math instruction.
Reference: Hagerty, G., & Smith S. (2005). Using the web-based interactive software Aleks to enhance college algebra. Mathematics and Computer Education, 39(3), 183-194.