Students teach themselves in NJ program

July 14, 2009 3:34:22 PM PDT
Some students in New Jersey are relying a bit less on teachers and a bit more on themselves when it comes to learning. And the program offers some unique advantages. In the computer lab at Paterson's Build Academy Middle School, the subject is algebra and the students teach themselves.

"If I don't remember something, I can go back and review it again and again and again until I remember it," student Justin Armstrong said.

They use software on the state math curriculum, and teachers stand by to help.

"The teachers intervene when the students need them, but the students basically have to do the work themselves," principal Rosalie Bespalko said.

It seems to work at different levels of achievement.

"I learn things faster than others, I guess, so if I'm working with the whole class, I have to, like, wait for them to finish their lesson so i can then move on," student Alexis Isom said. "But here, when I'm done, I can just keep going and move on with the lesson."

There are similar labs at a few other schools in the district, which also cover science, social studies and literacy.

"It brings out their ability to think critically," science director Nestor Collazo said. "Also their ability to be creative about problem solving."

The statewide standards for graduating from high school in New Jersey are about to become a lot more challenging.

Teachers expect students to meet the new standards, and some students find the technology more interesting than teachers.

"When you're on a computer, there might be games and activities you can do while doing the lessons, so yeah, I think it's better than teachers," student Isaiah Woolridge said.

The school district plans more of these labs.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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