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Algebra One with Jason Libby, “I kept at it…”

Judy Harvey and I recently visited with Jason Libby’s Algebra class at Woolwich Central School.  We had heard that Jason’s classes were enjoying success with the new Pearson Algebra One eText licenses that the district purchased, and that Jason was supplementing the eText with other resources such as Khan Academy.  This seemed like a good opportunity to see the eText in action with students.

We arrived a few minutes early and were able to watch the students filter in and take their seats.  Jason greeted the students individually as they arrived, and everyone took out their MacBooks and opened the homework from the night before.  On the wall in the front of the room, the Learning Targets and the activities for the day were displayed via the interactive projector.  Jason provided a short overview of what they would be doing, and then they were off!

The first section of the class involved homework peer review, a formative assessment using Socrative, and a few Khan Academy activities.  The students engaged in these activities while Jason walked around to each student, asking how they had done with the homework, answering questions, and identifying issues that would need to be addressed for the class.  The students were terrific.  They were engaged in conversation about the homework, and then began to work on the assessment and Khan activities without direction.  Jason did not have to say a word to the group; they simply went about their activities as though this was the most common of days.

Once Jason had completed his circuit of the room, he reviewed a few of the homework questions with the class, leading them through the work and to the solution.  The use of the interactive projector for reviewing the work and drawing examples to demonstrate the process was smoothly integrated into the discussion.  Some students were concerned with the Socrative quiz, so he assured the students that the formative assessment was for his benefit in order to gauge what he needed to spend more time on with the class.

At this point, Jason asked all students to close the MacBook so that he could be sure that they were ready for the introduction of new materials. This was an effective method of concluding the review portion of the day, and it silenced the side conversations.  He then brought them back to the Learning Targets and restated what they would be introduced to in the next segment.

Now came the eText.

Jason displayed the eText on the interactive projector while the students opened their MacBooks and followed along.  The lesson began with a “getting ready” question from the eText, and Jason drawing on the eText as he described the concept and activity.  Jason asked the students to highlight on their own eTexts anything they thought important as they worked through the material, and incorporated students questions into the discussion as they arose.  I was impressed by the ease with which Jason moved back and forth between the eText materials, the explanation of concepts, and exploration/application.

One of the nice features of the eText is the notes function, which Jason was modeling in the front of the room, as he had his students do the same at their desks.  They clicked an area of the etext to add a note in which they would explain their work.  Jason then walked around the room, checking in with each student as they worked independently with the eText.  Some students were reading, others watching a portion of eText video, others adding notes to the eText, and some even completing the section and moving back to Khan Academy where additional videos had been noted.  Once Jason had worked his way around the room, and the students had completed that section of the eText, he then brought them back together to review as a group.

This process of introducing a new Learning Target, modeling a sample in the eText, students working independently as Jason walked the room, and finally, bringing the class back together for a review of the Learning Target, was repeated two more times.

To conclude the lesson, Jason reviewed the work that had been accomplished and the new materials introduced, and assigned homework based on their progress in that day’s class.

I was impressed with Jason’s teaching and the use of the eText and supporting resources.  The technology was fully integrated throughout the lesson, but was never the focus of the lesson, and the students were clearly engaged.

As we were leaving, Judy and I congratulated Jason on a wonderful class and he had this to say.  “If you had asked me at the beginning of the year if I could do this (use the eText), I would have said no.  It was overwhelming to me, but I kept at it.  Now, I could not imagine teaching without the etext.






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