If regular math is too easy, teachers are using technology to encourage high achievers. For high achieving students at William Henry Middle School, students are given laptops when they find they are not challenged enough, and they solve math problems as fast as they can.
As they progress through the math problems, the difficulty level increases, with more complex tasks, or increased variables.
There is an ambitious goal her: to prepare students so that they are ready for Algebra I by the seventh grade.
“These students don’t have to wait for the teacher. Instruction has to take place, obviously, but, since it’s Web based, they can go as fast as they’re comfortable with when it actually comes to practicing,” said principal Toriano Giddens. “When they get to different levels, the kids feel really challenged to get to the next one. They’re not shying away from it.”
“If a student isn’t being challenged, they get bored. They lose interest,” Giddens said. “That’s when we lose them.”
The new program is called “Making Math Matter.” William Henry paid for it with a $16,740 Accelerated Academic Grant through a program created by the legislature last year.
The state provided a total of $300,000 in such grants this school year to ten schools and districts to pay for programs aimed expressly at students who are ahead of grade level in reading, writing, math, science, the humanities or art.
“The bottom line is that, up and down the spectrum, we have to meet kids where they are,” said Lt. Gov. Matt Denn, who proposed the program. “We’re doing a lot of work with our at-risk students, and that’s a good thing. But we also need to be providing for students who are ahead of their grade level.”
Denn said the idea for the grants came from teachers and schools who had ideas for programs that could give kids an accelerated learning track, but often didn’t have the money needed for start-up costs.