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Utah Lt. Gov: New math text is ‘game changer’

Utah’s new lieutenant governor praises educators who created a new interactive textbook for middle schools.

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Juab School District had already laid the technological groundwork by spending one-time funding from the Legislature in 2008 on computer labs and equipping schools with wireless Internet, Rowley said.

For three years now, every middle schooler has been given a personal electronic device to use throughout the school year. Beginning next year, every student in seventh through 12th grades will have iPad Minis; those in third through sixth grades will have iPods.

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The junior high’s paper costs have fallen nearly 60 percent since the students began working on iPads and iPods, Rowley said.

"I love this a lot more," said Robyn Sherwood, a seventh-grade honors math student who uses her iPad Mini in math and English, but can also take photos of her hand-written history notes to study later.

She even did her homework on a plane to Mexico without having to lug a heavy text. "It’s a lot easier," she said.

Sadie Asbridge, also a seventh-grade honors math student, said she can take a screen shot of a problem that’s giving her trouble and email it to her teacher, Jill Jackson, from home at night.

"I usually get a response," she said. "Then you don’t have the embarrassment of having it in front of everyone."

Other schools involved in the pilot project do not have electronic devices for all their students, but they’ve embraced Utah Middle School Math.

For one thing, most schools allow the students to write in the workbooks, a big advantage over the traditional hardbound books passed down from year to year, teachers said.

"I feel like they’re getting a much deeper understanding," said Kara Boyd, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade math at Monticello High.

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Mary Rhodes, principal of Eisenhower Junior High School, said she’s optimistic the new text will help her students close a gap in their end-of-year math scores.

"The kids are learning concepts that evaded them before," Rhodes said.

Rowley said he couldn’t be more pleased with the new core standards and the text for teaching them.

"It’s not teaching them to get the right answers," he said. "It’s teaching them to solve problems."


Twitter: @KristenMoulton

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