Gillespie chosen to classroom-test new programs
During a classroom seminar with Texas Instruments executive Kevin Spry, math teacher Jane Gillesie uses her computer and TI-Nspire technology to quiz her students. Gillespie was chosen by TI to test out their new products before release.
Math class is often perceived as a battle of brain against equation, pencil against paper and studying against test. However, math teacher Jane Gillespie aims to reinvent the way her students learn with new technologies.
Last year Gillespie was chosen to participate in a pilot program for Texas Instruments (TI) which allowed for her to test out their new materials in the classroom and provide feedback to the corporation. TI is a company that manufactures graphing calculators and other devices used to assist math teachers and students in the classroom.
Over the past few years they have developed a TI-Nspire technology specific to certain math levels, which provides teachers with online materials needed to conduct a TI-Nspire lesson. Gillespie uses the program in her Geometry, Algebra, Pre-algebra and honors classes.
"I basically use the system and materials with my students and then provide feedback on what worked and what didn't work," Gillespie said. "I am involved in making the product as useful to teachers as possible before they hit the market and are open to the public."
Gillespie partakes in web-based monthly "webinars," which provide a resource for other teachers who are using, or interested in using, the product. The pilot program has also allowed her to present her observations to the Teachers Teaching With Technology international conference in Washington DC as well as the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).
"This program has provided me with such an amazing opportunity to not only better myself as a teacher and help my students in the classroom, but it has also opened many doors to get FC recognized as a school," Gillespie said. "I have enjoyed every minute of my involvement and truly feel blessed that God has given me this opportunity to stretch myself. I have grown not only as an educator, but as a person as well. Plus traveling all over the country has been really fun."
In previous years, all students have been required to purchase a TI-85 calculator for math courses in algebra and above. According to math department head Michael Fenton, this year the Algebra 1 students received the new TI-Nspire calculators. From now on, this will continue until they have eventually spread throughout the entire course sequence.
"While it's nice to have a class set of TI-Nspire calculators upstairs, and a new wireless Navigator system, the most important impact on the math program is that a key member of our department is receiving valuable training all throughout the year," Fenton said.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for Miss Gillespie. She has a chance to get her hands on cutting-edge technology, and rub shoulders with a dedicated group of experienced educators. Not only is she playing around with new calculators, she has become a part of a teaching community that will help shape her teaching style and skill set in the years ahead."
"My goal for my students in working with these instruments is to help them better understand the material and do well on tests. The calculators are just a tool to help them achieve overall success." --math teacher Jane Gillespie
According to Kevin Spry, Texas Instrument Executive, the teachers selected for last year's pilot program were initially new to technology. However this year, they looked for teachers who were familiar with TI-Nspire.
"We chose Miss Gillespie for our program because she is a teacher who is willing to try new ideas and is not afraid to explore new methods in teaching her students," Spry said. "She is comfortable with the technology and has an easy-going manner which is flexible as technology opens the door for different directions and opportunities. Miss Gillespie's input will help us see what is working well and offer suggestions for future opportunities for teachers and students to further learning of mathematics."
Although the basic math principles remain the same, the calculators allow for a different teaching style to help students to understand the lessons.
"My goal for my students in working with these instruments is to help them better understand the material and do well on tests," Gillespie said. "The calculators are just a tool to help them achieve overall success. The technology gives students the opportunity to look at the math differently instead of just using a pencil and a book. They can see things happening and it helps them to be more engaged."
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