By Eric Norwood Jr.
PNT staff writer
Technology is the way of the world, and is now becoming the way of future generations. This is why administrators at Portales Junior High School have adopted a new math curriculum called Digits which is entirely technology-based.
“Most of my students are on Twitter and Instagram, and if they have access to that, then they have access to this,” said Erin Switzer, who teaches seventh and eighth grade math at PJHS.
According to Principal Steve Harris, every six years, the schools adopts a new curriculum. When it was time to decide on a new math curriculum, Harris felt that a technology-based system would be best.
“The way kids are now, everything is based around technology. We’re hoping to engage them more with web-based technology and we think this will help the students be more successful,” said Harris.
So far, results have been positive. The school uses short cycle assessments to measure how well students are doing at a specific point in the year. For the first short cycle assessment, 84 percent of students scored at proficient or advanced.
“We were so excited when the assessment results came back,” said Switzer.
Digits encompasses all aspects of instruction, include lesson planning, homework, quizzes and assignments into one program. Teachers can manage all aspects of their lessons with a click of a mouse. The students have laptops at their desks, so they follow along on all lessons on an interactive white board, and also have paper workbooks that follow all the lessons.
“Every day at the end of a lesson, they have a close and check. They have to be able to explain it in words. If I approve it, they are good and we can move on. If not, I can assign them another assignment online through Digits so they can practice,” said Switzer
Even though students are all being taught the same lessons, their assignments online always consist of random problems, so students get individualized work. If a student struggles on one problem, slightly easier problems are given until the student can figure it out. Then the problems get tougher as the student adjusts. If a student is completing all problems correctly, Digits will automatically give the student tougher problems to challenge them.
“Two students can be on the same level and never get the same problem. It gives them individual attention,” said Switzer.