Program uses smart phones to increase math scores

Kliewer teaches a majority of the K-Nect classes, and her husband teaches honors classes. This past fall, she taught geometry honors, which looped into Algebra II honors in the spring.

Students in the 2009-10 classes were mostly in 10th grade, with about six to seven freshman and the rest sophomores, for totals of around 25 to 26 students per class. These students will now loop into fall pre-calc and spring AP calculus (continuing with K-Nect) for the 2010-11 year.

Each class is 90 minutes long, and each class is a semester-length class.

According to Kliewer, students who come in the K-Nect program are “average” in math, and many are not on the college track. The high school is also near a military base, so students come and go.

“Students are chosen to participate in the program if they’re struggling,” said Kliewer, “and because K-Nect pushes them to achieve more, we try to put them in the program. But since many of the entry-level classes develop into honors or higher levels in second semester, students can opt in or opt out.”

The curriculum—developed in conjunction with Drexel University and the University of Florida—mainly consists of problem sets based on real-world examples.

“The first class taught was Algebra I, and we really wrote the curriculum as we went along,” said Kliewer. “Now we have established problem sets for each class; however, we’re still in the development process for Algebra II and Geometry.”

A typical day for Kliewer begins with her teaching a concept and then asking the class to complete three to four warm-up exercises. Sometimes students collaborate on the solution, and sometimes they work independently; all students then IM Kliewer their answers.

“When class first begins in the semester, it takes a few tries for students to catch on for the problem sets. I walk them through a few, but they catch on quickly and don’t require much assistance by the end of the semester,” she said.

Kliewer explained that some days students might be asked to go outside to record video examples of a concept and then explain it to the class.

“At first, the videos and explanations weren’t detailed,” said Kliewer, “so part of the learning process in K-Nect is learning through teaching. Students have to understand a concept in every way to be able to teach their peers. This is a large part of what contributes to the positive effects we’ve seen in the program.”

Because students are allowed to keep their smart phones at all times, K-Nect included MobiControl, a device management solution, to keep tabs on what students were messaging with the phones.

Meris Stansbury

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