A new use of technology boosts student understanding of math, science and other subjects.  By using computers and their applications, students in an accelerated class are discovering that they can better understand lessons and learn more in depth. 

 Jacquie Gamelgaard, 15, said she’s having more fun and an easier time understanding tough concepts on her third week of using a computer for geometry. .

Technology Boosts Student Understanding

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“I feel like it’s better than standard packets,” she said. “There’s a tutorial for everything.”

Gamelgaard is part of an accelerated geometry class for sophomores at Liberty High School. Her teacher Steffan Ledgerwood, along with three other Hillsboro teachers, is in the midst of a six-week pilot study to determine how well students respond to using Chromebooks, lightweight mobile computers, instead of textbooks. Each class is equipped with enough devices for every student.

A math study team, comprising about 20 teachers, parents, administrators and students, has been working since last school year to figure out what materials to recommend to the school board for adoption.

Materials traditionally mean textbooks and curriculum, but the team is considering Chromebooks to replace old math books.

Gamelgaard is in favor of the replacement. She said students are more comfortable using technology and she learns better by looking things up on the Internet than being limited to one book.

Technology Boosts Student Understanding

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Many other Oregon school districts use laptops and tablets in the classroom. But Hillsboro, plagued with budget cuts and a failed bond measure, has not updated its technology infrastructure in years. Administrators are now looking at a variety of options, including combining print or e-textbooks with free tutorial videos and other online help guides (called open source materials), such as Khan Academy and CK-12 Foundation.  

Ledgerwood’s geometry class has an assigned math book from 2004. The version is so old, he said, that he stopped using it altogether last year — one of few math teachers in the district to do so. Before joining the pilot study, his students worked from packets he either created or pulled from various sources.

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