On Saturday, the Neag School of Education donated 30 iPads and a charging cart to Windham Public Schools, courtesy of the Mathematics Literacy in English Across Departments initiative.
“Technology is a means to feel empowered, the students can do something beyond paper and pencils,” Dr. Eliana Rojas, Neag faculty member and director of Math LEAD, said.
Math LEAD is a grant from the US Department of Education’s National Professional Development Program. It partners with UConn’s bilingual education department as well as Windham Public Schools as detailed on UConn’s website.
The five year, $2 million federal grant’s press release states that it focuses on the enhancement of teachers who educate culturally, linguistically and socially diverse students. Many of these high school students learn Spanish and English as their third or fourth languages. More commonly these students are referred to as English Language Learners or Emergent Bilingual according to Math LEAD’s online overview.
Teachers from disciplines such as math, social studies and English have all taken part in this grant. According to their website, the Math LEAD grant currently impacts 15 teachers in the Windham Public Schools and a minimum of 450 students.
This grant focuses on both teacher enhancement and the widespread use of the trans-disciplinary nature of mathematics. Teachers are offered fellowships in order to graduate from either Neag’s 6-year or master’s program.
Though the goal of the initiative is to improve overall instruction for this diverse student population, teachers are often encouraged to focus on math, science and technology.
“You learn mathematics and the kind of mathematics you learn has an important impact on a student’s indeterminate future place in society,” Rojas said. “You make students active participants in their own learning.”
Since Rojas joined the UConn faculty in 2000, she has overseen several of these initiatives totaling up to $6 million in grants. The most recent was funded starting in 2011.
Her program provides a wide array of assistance for local schools through Neag’s teaching certification program.
The grant provides further educational advancement opportunities for teachers through additional training and new technology to classrooms as listed on Neag’s website.
This increases the amount of science, technology and math being taught. According to Math LEAD’s listed objectives, plans have been developed to assist the faculty, school administration and student’s families with the education programs.
The increased focus on science instruction aligns with state Common Core curriculum used in all school districts, as well as teaches towards the Connecticut Academic Performance Test, or CAPT, assessment.
The eventual goal of this increase in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics curriculum is the entrance of more second language speakers to fields such as pre-engineering upon entrance to college as detailed in their press release.
“The difference cannot come from the classroom alone, it has to come from outside in the community,” Rojas said. She calls this “a community of learners.”
Sarah McNeal is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.