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New Technology Helps Kindergartners with Math

Lakeside Elementary kindergartner Charlotte Kanaan stood beside teacher Shannon Mitchell and worked through a math problem, which her classmates could see thanks to a document camera that beamed her actions through an overhead projector. Today’s lesson: 11s and 12s, and all the ways to get there.

“Now let’s see what you came up with,” Mitchell said. One by one, students raised their hands after working it through on their own using shapes and colors: 10+2, 11+1, 6+6.

Kindergarten teacher Shannon Mitchell

“Oh, that last one is a good one,” Mitchell said.

Next up to help drive the lesson home was a video tutorial starring Professor Edward Burger — a real live math expert — and a puppet named Joey with electric blue hair. It was clear they were a familiar and welcome pair as students scrambled to take seats in front of the screen.

“They’re super engaged now,” said Mitchell. “I think it’s made story problems more do-able for a kindergartner because they can see it on the screen.”

“They’re getting reinforcement in so many ways now,” said Carole McDonald, district technology hardware specialist. “It’s also changed the way our teachers teach. All the resources are online.

Kindergartner Charlotte Kanaan was teacher’s helper during a recent math lesson

“What we’re really seeing a difference in is first grade, because those students this year had a year of the solid base routines.”

The new technology was part of a $30.9 million bond approval in 2014 that includes $10 million in technology and $16 million for facility efficiencies and improvements.

First-grade teacher Kirk Reifinger said his students this year seem to have better one-to-oneinteraction, improved “number sense … which is a huge part of our foundational math,” and a better grasp of basic addition and subtraction concepts.

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Math on the Spot video introduction

Read the SNN Series “Making Math Add Up”

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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