Rita Della vale is a High School Mathematics teacher in Newark, New Jersey. Rita and her student teacher Jennabel Reyes recently participated in an implementation study with SMART to address the challenge of students struggling to move beyond computational learning of math concepts.
Beyond the positive outcomes shown in the study, Rita has seen firsthand how using SMART amp helps set up students for future success.
Rita was allowed to create a classroom that was “really student-driven, where students had the opportunity to be given a task and create a solution, and to conjecture what they thought was true.”
Using SMART amp along with Chromebooks in her grade 9 math class laid the foundation for what Rita wanted to do. Being able to see the contributions that students made in their amp workspace gave Rita the opportunity to observe students’ strengths and weaknesses, and move students into groups with peers that would complement their individual strengths and learning preferences.
Rita’s students used the created activity sheets that she posted in amp to get a more through experience than they would be able to have with a pen and paper. The students were able “dive in” to activities, and be truly active participants in their learning.
Using charts and graphs, students hypothesized on questions, such as determining what the shading on a graph means. Students could use the available tools – including drawing shapes and lines – to explore and develop responses. In this way, students could discover and even create a solution, instead of just being told the answer.
Using the chat feature in SMART amp, students collaborated to create theories and solve the problems presented. They ‘riffed’ off each other’s work, and built on the thoughts and concepts of others.
Students who were initially just excited to use Chromebooks daily began to see the value of connecting with their peers via chat, and in the ability to use touch screens to interact with content. Students were also able to share their workspace to their Google drive, which allowed the amp workspace to act as a note pad. Rita was able to provide feedback to her students in real time, and to revisit lessons later in order to highlight an activity or response.
Rita admits that ‘many students have a ‘sour taste’ about math, something that can often follow students into adulthood. Giving students a platform that is both accessible and collaborate is a step in the right direction to expanding the way that students view math, Rita adds.
Beyond making math more accessible, SMART amp teaches students many skills that will be critical for them as they transition into higher education and the working world. Bringing together different perspectives in a collaborative space allows students to see that value of differing ideas and opinions and helps them build not only acceptance and cooperation, but also leadership skills.
Giving students control over their workspace is one of the elements of SMART amp that Rita loves the most. When Rita displays students’ work on the SMART board in her classroom, those students feel a "sense of pride" in their work. Giving students ownership over their learning helps to develop feelings of mastery and confidence, which expand far beyond the walls of the classroom.
See how Rita improved student outcomes using SMART amp and learn more about the software here.
Many thanks to Rita for her collaboration on this post.