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In freshman Algebra classes, GEAR UP iPads are making a difference in student learning. As a GEAR UP Academic Specialist in two of Monica Nelson’s Algebra classrooms at Walla Walla High School, we’ve worked in collaboration to integrate GEAR UP iPads into the curriculum. We’ve found them to be integral in extending learning for advanced students, catching up student learning due to absences and misunderstanding, and presenting curriculum in a new way.
With the new Common Core mathematics standards just around the corner, students are using the iPads to access Khan Academy algebra lecture videos and practice problems that are aligned with the Common Core to further their mathematical understanding, diversify their practice and get familiar with using technology in the mathematics classroom. The iPads help students feel empowered and in control of their learning. Khan Academy allows students to work at different paces and concentrate on content specific to each student. According to Algebra student Abbi Berger, she likes using the iPads in algebra because “the iPads allow learning to go beyond pencil and paper so we get new experiences and see things differently.”
Using iPads in the classroom gives students experience in being assessed via technology. For example, the Walla High school freshman class was recently selected as a pilot test group for the upcoming Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium/SBAC that they will officially take as juniors in 2016. Before the pilot assessment on April 23, students used the iPads in class to familiarize themselves with the on-‐screen calculator. Students also completed practice questions using the calculator. Students reported that becoming familiar with the format and calculator via the iPads reduced student stress levels on the actual test day.
According to Tom Paul, “it’s good to use the iPads in algebra because the technology makes learning algebra exciting and I like technology.” The students are energized and on task when using the iPads and appreciate the fresh delivery of content. We find that the iPads extend learning and understanding in ways that would not be possible without them.