Math Lab adds up for Webster students
Students at Webster Jr. High (WJH) are among the first and the few to have access to a special program aimed at preparing them for high school and ultimately college math.
Glen Guin, 8th grade math teacher at WJH, spent many hours this summer learning how to use and teach with My Math Lab, which is an online learning and assessment program.
As a requirement to use My Math Lab, Guin had to work through the entire 8th grade math program, without error before he could be certified to use the tool in the classroom.
"I have worked every problem the kids have to work, and I had to get 100 percent accuracy before I could be certified," he said.
Guin is in his sixth year of teaching and has received positive feed back from students who are using the program.
"It is mind-boggling how engaged the students are," Guin said. "Classroom management has been much easier since we started using the lab. It gives me more opportunity to work with students who are struggling and see what specific areas they are struggling with.
"At the same time, a student who grasps the concepts more quickly can advance at their own pace," he continued. "It is great because this means students don't get left behind. There is an opportunity to rework a lesson if the student has trouble grasping it, and we don't move forward until the student can pass the lesson with 80 percent accuracy."
According to Guin, 90 percent of homework is done in class, but students can access My Math Lab from any computer with internet access. In order to keep parents up to date with what their students are working on, Guin has also opened up the lab to parents of students in his class.
"I want the parents to be informed and know how we are teaching their student," Guin said. "A lot of the parents have taken classes at BPCC and other colleges, so when they see the program, they are familiar with it.
"I think it is important that parents sit down where their child sits in class, sees the computer and works the program," he continued. "Parent support and understanding is what I hope to get by opening up the classroom."
According to the STEM Goal Office, which is under the State Department of Education, My Math Lab is not intended to replace the teacher. Teachers use this tool as part of their weekly schedule.
This classroom and lab teaching model has been used in courses at Louisiana State University, Southwestern University and Bossier Parish Community College. The University of New Orleans is currently working to implement the program as well.
Cost of the program is $35 per student per year, which is much less than the usual rate charged and the cost of a text book.
Additional savings could be seen at the district level if the number of students needing 8th grade LEAP remediation decreases.
Personnel Supervisor Charlotte Dean said this would not have been possible without a passion for education.
"Mr. Guin really sacrificed a lot of his time this summer and got so excited about bringing this program to Webster," Dean said. "His excitement was contagious and spread to Ms. (Elena) Black (Principal of WJH) and Mr. (Butch) Williams (then Superintendent of Webster Parish Schools).
"We were fortunate to have Mr. Williams set aside funding for this program," she said. "Initially, we were only going to try and bring it to one classroom, but Mr. Guin, Ms. Black and Mr. Williams found a way to bring it to nearly all of the 8th graders."
Dean went on to say some students will not use the My Math Lab in order to compare scores and see if the program is working as they hope.
"I think it will, but we want to make sure that if we spend the money on the lab that we are going to see the results," Dean said. "I hope one day this is something all of our students can use."
There are 191 students using the lab this year.
"Being able to have that many students use this program shows that where there is a will there is a way," Dean said. "And we have a lot of teachers and personnel in this parish who work hard to bring programs like this to our students."