Teacher Hopes to Modernize Math Class with Chromebooks
Xavier Lanier — 08/02/2013
A San Francisco teacher is raising money via Indiegogo to outfit his classroom with Chromebooks for every student. The Chromebooks will allow students to take advantage of modern learning solutions, including access to Khan Academy.
Veteran high school math teacher Evan Bass of Gateway High School has taken it upon himself to get the tools his students need. The San Francisco Unified School District’s budget simply doesn’t allow for computers for every student. Bass is hoping to raise between $5,000 and $6,000 to buy Samsung Chromebooks and necessary online subscriptions. The Samsung Chromebooks cost just under $250 each. He’s also accepting donations of gently used Chromebooks.
A video explaining why his students need the Chromebooks and what he plans on doing with them is below. You can contribute to the fundraising efforts by visiting Indiegogo.com.
“There is a gap in funds and access for students in school. You are not going to find laptops in each class in most public schools. Everyone knows that this would be helpful, be the funds just don’t exist. I’m not special in my ideas,” Bass said. ”I’m sure that I’m not the only teacher who could positively utilize the technology that is available through the internet. Problem is, most teachers don’t have access. I’ve been aware that these sites exist for years, but I’ve always just accepted the fact that we don’t have access at my school, it is not going to be affordable, and just moved on.”
Bass equates learning Algebra and other high school math subjects without the Internet to performing other complex tasks with antiquated tools.
“Imagine the top brain surgeon in the country performing an operation,” wrote Bass in his Indiegogo fundraising page. “Now imagine this same person performing the same operation with tools from the 1980′s. Very different results.”
Many of his students don’t have Internet connections at home or parents who are able to tutor them.
“Teaching in an urban environment presents many challenges,” Bass said. “This is especially true with subjects like math that build upon themselves. In an average algebra class at my school, I will have students that range from those who don’t know their basic multiples, to those who are advanced and are ready to tackle polynomials and quadratic equations. My job as a teacher is to engage and support every student, but it is particularly difficult when you have class with such a wide range of math proficiency.”
Bass said that Chromebooks and online lessons don’t replace good teaching, but augments it and allows teachers to focus attention where it’s needed most.
“Nothing will replace the importance of strong teaching, human interaction, and relationships building with students, but there are tools available to enhance what we do, and in any profession or endeavor, people always strive to take advantage of the tools that are available,” Bass said.
Bass envisions instructing students at their own pace with the Chromebooks and several online learning tools. The Khan Academy, famous for its YouTube math lessons, allows teachers to track student’s learning patterns in real time and tailors practice questions that address their weaknesses.
“I can literally assign each student the exact skill that they need to work on for mastery. Every student can be doing something slightly different that addresses their individual need,” Bass said.
Manga High is another tool Bass hopes to use in the classroom. This tool disguises math lessons as fun interactive online games.
Bass is confident that the 25 Chromebooks can make a big impact, since he’s seen colleagues succeed with the same strategy.
“The teacher who introduced me to this Manga High and Khan Academy, Christopher Webster, has used this in his class for years and has posted some of the highest test scores in the state of California,” Bass said. “He has talked to me about his students doing extra work and playing late at night and on the weekends because it is fun and they are invested in what they are doing. Imagine if I can bring this kind of enthusiasm into the math classroom everyday.”
The above video is a 60 Minutes overview of the Khan Academy. It includes a segment on how its lessons and technology are being used in the classroom.