Texting to learn

Published 10:51 am Friday, December 17, 2010

WINDSOR – An initiative of Chowan University is helping math teachers in Bertie, Hertford and Northampton counties.

During this month’s meeting of the Bertie County Board of Education (Dec. 7), the board heard an update from Dr. Brenda Tinkham, Dean of the School of Education at Chowan, and a cohort of teachers from Bertie County about NC Quest.

“We partnered with Hertford County Schools to write a grant for 18 months of professional development,” Dr. Tinkham said. “We decided together the biggest need was Algebra I.”

Once the grant was received, Chowan opened the participation to math teachers in Bertie and Northampton counties as well.

The focus of the project is to provide professional development in mathematics for teachers in grades six through 12 with primary emphasis on Algebra and the Algebraic thinking strand within the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.

Eight teachers from Bertie County were part of the program and the group made a presentation to the board.

Towanda Smallwood directed the presentation, which gave a math problem that could be used for multiple grade levels. The problem was called Texting: Algebra Style.

It allowed teachers to use students’ interest in texting to get them to help figure out which company plan offered the best for their way of texting. Smallwood said it could be used with multiple groups of students and adapted by grade level.

“Students text all the time,” Smallwood said. “This provides a real world problem for our students. It can be used in sixth, seventh and eighth grade and in Algebra I.”

She said it could also be used as a class exercise or for review. The problem is just a sample of how the teachers learned to help their students relate to the work they needed to learn in Algebra.

The instruction for teachers is provided by Chowan University mathematicians and mathematics educators as well as master teachers. Materials used to support effective teaching are those that are recommended by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction or the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Dr. Tinkham said Chowan is seeking a continuation grant to help provide future training for teachers in the three counties.