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Muirlands math program embraces future through Internet

This certainly wasn’t your mother’s middle school textbook. It probably wasn’t yours either.

But as society progresses into the digital age, so will education. The transition is already well underway at Muirlands Middle School, where the Internet has become a vital tool to sixth grade math students. They still work with a printed textbook, but the supplemental web materials include an online version, diagnostic multiple-choice quizzes and instant tutoring for questions they got wrong.

“The students love it because it gives them immediate feedback,” said math teacher Paul Byrne, who recently presented the new technology to several parents. “The students know right away exactly how they did.”

Students can also share their online access with their parents, who in turn can help with homework.

“It provides my daughter with more opportunities for learning, but it also provides me with some needed refresher information,” said Muirlands parent Alison Lee.

The school first introduced the online course materials last year to students with behavioral and academic problems. Byrne said they became tremendously more motivated and eager to learn.

“It reaches all students, advanced and low-level,” he said. “I’m sorry but a textbook and paper doesn’t engage students anymore.”

All sixth grade math classes began using Internet tools this year. The school plans to employ them for seventh graders next year and eighth graders in 2012. Therefore, the current sixth graders will be working online for the remainder of their careers at Muirlands.

“I’m not very old myself but I find my students will run circles around me in technology,” Byrne said, adding this is just the first of many technological boosts students will ultimately receive. “I think anything we can give them is fabulous.”

Muirlands parents interested in learning more about online programs should contact their student’s math teacher, as there may be another presentation in the near future.