New Way of Teaching Math Clicks with Students

Article excerpt

Devon Judge, 13, an eighth-grader at Wilkinsburg Middle School, listened to an instructor through headphones and read a question on his computer screen during his math class.

"It's challenging, but I like it because I can visualize it," Devon said, as he reviewed his answers.

He then picked up a pencil and scribbled down some calculations on a work sheet. After a pause, he clicked his selection, and the computer flashed words of praise: "Great Job!"

The clicks of a mouse replace the tip tap of chalk across a blackboard during mathematics classes that use "I CAN Learn" software at Wilkinsburg Middle School.

"I CAN Learn," is an interactive, self-paced program used to teach pre-algebra and algebra courses in middle schools, high schools and colleges nationwide. Wilkinsburg Middle School is one of only two Pennsylvania schools to use it. Roosevelt Middle School in Lycoming County is the other.

John Staudacher, director of technology for the Wilkinsburg schools, said the state Department of Education paid for the computer system in Wilkinsburg.

"We try to evaluate all online program options that'll provide instruction to students at all levels," Staudacher said.

The "I CAN Learn" system is valued at $300,000 for a 30-student classroom and provides three years of technical support and training, said John R. Lee, president of Jackson, Miss.-based JRL Enterprises Inc., which distributes the system.

Lee said the program is effective for students in urban, suburban and rural settings and reaches students who have not responded well to traditional teaching methods, but are engaged by computers.

More than 150,000 students use the program, which debuted in the 1994-95 school year. Lee said schools using the program have been able to boost their test scores.

According to a study from the company, two middle schools in Los Angeles that previously had state test results below school district averages boosted their results above the averages after using the program last year. …