Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010
K-STATE PROJECT PUTTING IPADS IN LOCAL MATH CLASSROOMS
MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University's department of curriculum and instruction is using a $70,000 grant enhancement to purchase iPads for mathematics teachers in local school districts.
The iPads will be used as a technological resource to enhance math lessons and instruction in the classroom.
The grant enhancement is additional financial support for a three-year, $300,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Education for a project focusing on teacher retention and increasing effective math teaching.
"The original grant is designed to deepen and broaden the content knowledge of math teachers in Kansas -- in particular, the ones in K-State's professional development schools and partnership districts," said David Allen, associate professor of curriculum and instruction and one of the grant's project directors.
The grant focuses primarily on teachers of grades 5-8 in the Junction City, Manhattan and Wamego school districts. The funding supports a two-week training program for the teachers every summer, with a different math area focus each year. The program has 33 participants and is helping to train them to become teacher-leaders in their districts, Allen said.
"We're taking our knowledge and disseminating it to these 33 teachers who have been working with us," he said. "They'll go back to their schools and do the same thing so that we reach more teachers."
Allen said the grant enhancement funding for iPad technology could benefit teachers and their students in several ways.
When teaching geometry, he said, it's important for students to understand that there are certain properties that are consistent, such as the sum of a triangle's angles always equaling 180 degrees.
"Using certain software programs you can draw a triangle on an iPad, and you can manipulate the vertices," Allen said. "What that does is change the angles on the triangle. So as kids touch the iPad, they can move the triangle into different configurations. They can then see the angles changing, but the sum of the angles always stays at 180 degrees."
Technical issues for using the iPads in the classroom are still being developed.
Allen said the project is just one of the many ways K-State is helping teachers in the community.
"That's what a university should do," he said. "Rather than recognize we're an ivory tower where professors dictate what true knowledge is, we believe that we need to leave our offices, get into the schools and work with teachers where the rubber meets the road, and just say, 'what can we do to help?'"
In addition to Allen, directors of the project at K-State include Andrew Bennett, professor of mathematics; Melisa Hancock, instructor of curriculum and instruction; and Xuan Hien Nguyen, visiting assistant professor in mathematics.