Tag Archives: technology

Epochal STEM Meeting: How Will Mack Students Benefit?

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by Anthony Beron

Behold, the 12-inch, green and grey robot, heralding change at McClymonds High School.

The floors of 226 were waxed, the equipment shined, the bright posters hung as McClymonds prepared to kick off its new STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) curriculum at a meeting tomorrow at 5:30pm in the Malcolm X room on the 2nd floor.

“This program is supposed to enhance engineering learning by providing hand-on experiences,” said Kathryn Hall, engineering and math teacher at McClymonds, about the program developed by Project Lead The Way.

Hall has been teaching a STEM elective at McClymonds this year. Kardel Howard, a sophomore (who will be there tomorrow) said that he enjoys the computer work, which helps him learn about himself. “Our teacher is not yet able to answer all our questions, but that’ll change,” he added.

In addition to students taking the STEM class, speakers are to include Principal Kevin Taylor, Oakland superintendent Tony Smith, Janet Auer from Chevron Global Partnerships and Programs, and Duane Crum of Project Lead The Way.

“I’m hoping that in the next couple to years, people will be hearing about our engineering and robotics programs,” principal Kevin Taylor told The Oakland Tribune.

On its website, Project Lead The Way says its curriculum reaches 500,000 students in over 4,700 schools in 50 states.

Robert Boege , executive director of Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America, told macksmack that West Oakland was selected after U.S. News and other media groups identified those schools that needed STEM the most. “The future economy will be dependent on our youth,” he added.

Chevron partnered to provide funding to support the program, which will be launched in three schools in West Oakland, Martin Luther King elementary school, West Oakland Middle School and McClymonds, creating a “West Oakland STEM education pipeline,” said Hall.

Why iPads Would Help Us — A Tale of Unkept Promises

Checking topography for science class -- a dream without iPad!

by Silvia Cardona

(with reports from The New York Times)

As a ninth grader at McClymonds, I was excited by the promise of being among the first students in the district to use an iPad to learn algebra, keep track of homework and email my teachers.

That promise never came true. At least not this year.

Once again, at McClymonds, we are behind the times in the use of technology and in educational innovation.

Just look around. The New York Times says that  a growing number of schools in the country — most in wealthy districts — are using the iPad to teach algebra (using a Houghton Mifflin only for iPad program) as well as history.

That was the plan at McClymonds.

In an email response, principal Kevin Taylor told macksmack: that the alumni and administration made a commitment to secure the iPads and that the alumni association raised over 80 percent of the funding. Teachers were planning to use them in conjunction with the SMART boards and the iPads were to be used in the classroom.

So what happened?

Two problems arose, says Taylor. Bureaucracy or the need for signatures outside of McClymonds. And then, of course, “security” for the iPads.  “We don’t have the funding to properly secure the ipads here on campus. ” It makes sense with computers and cameras stolen out of classrooms. Recently a student’s iPod disappeared off her desk. Another ‘s shuffle was stolen last week.

In the meantime, students are grumbling. “What a major let-down,” said Astlee Carver, a 9th grader. “”It’s not fair for anyone who is less fortunate and doesn’t have access to technology.”

“Having an iPad would mean that we wouldn’t have to carry a ton of books,” says Khristian Antoine, a 9th grader.

Besides saving students’ backs and serving as research tools, iPads can make a difference in classroom learning. Roslyn High School in New York  gave 47 iPads to the students and teachers in two humanities classes. The school district plans to hand out iPads to 1,100 students.

The iPads — at $750 apiece –are used in class and at home during the school year to replace heavy textbooks, to email teachers and to turn in papers and homework.

Not everyone believes that technology improves learning. The New York Times says that educators disagree over whether giving every student a laptop makes a difference academically.

While schools are cutting programs and laying off teachers, should they spend money on  iPads? What if they’re free?

“There is very little evidence that kids learn more, faster or better by using these machines,” Larry Cuban, a Stanford professor emeritus, told The New York Times.  Cuban feels  that the money would be better spent to train and retain teachers. “iPads are marvelous tools to engage kids, but then the novelty wears off and you get into hard-core issues of teaching and learning.”