‘Giant Etch-a-Sketch' brings a new dimension to math education at Halsted

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:00

Newton - Halsted Middle School teacher Jill Rosenthal calls students Lauren Alger and Samantha Rajczyk of Newton “the smart board queens.” They and the rest of their middle school classmates at Halsted School are learning math and geometry in a way that only science fiction could have predicted - The students are using a Geometer’s Sketchpad or “smart board” as they are commonly called. “The kids love it. It is in game format, but it is still reinforcing skills they are learning. It presents material in a different way to enhance a variety of learning styles,” said Rosenthal who likens the interactive smart board to “giant etch-a-sketch.” Her students agree. “It’s fun and it teaches you and it’s cool,” said 13-year-old Rajczyk, who believes the electronic board has helped improve her math performance. “This year it’s a lot easier because of the smart board.” Classmate Lauren Alger says she finds the colorful touch screen helps her “because you get to see it, not just explain it. You can do so much more then with a regular chalkboard.” The school acquired five smart boards and 48 computers through the federally funded Matrix Math grant. The Department of Education grant was given only to Halsted and Hopatcong Middle Schools in Sussex County to be used for math instruction. “Both schools are thrilled to have been selected for this grant and the teachers and students have enjoyed the work that they have accomplished with these additional resources. This grant offers the schools an opportunity to work toward using technology to improve student achievement in mathematics,” said Halsted Vice Principal Karen Perez. The introduction of the smart boards has prompted the school to keep the computer lab open for additional hours to give students and parents an opportunity to learn the new technology. Math teachers and administrators also receive classes on how to better utilize the new technology.