Region 16 Educational Service Center (ESC) in Amarillo, Texas is a true-believer when it comes to putting handheld computers in the hands of its upper-elementary school aged students. On the heels of its recent success with improving student spelling performance with the aid of Leading Step's SpellChamp! game for Palm OS handhelds, Region 16 has now expanded the program with 1,000 licenses each of Leading Step's MathChamp!, Size it Up, and Shape Up: Geometry games.
"Our region applied for and received funding for the Panhandle Academic Advancement in Literacy and Math (PAALM) grant through the Texas Education Agency," said Heather Voran, an Instructional Technology Specialist representing Region 16 ESC. "As part of this three-year program, we have implemented several of Leading Step's handheld applications in the classroom. The games offer great potential as effective learning tools because of their strategy for improving academic achievement and for their overall teacher effectiveness."
Twelve school districts and 19 campuses currently participate in the program. Approximately 130 teachers have been provided with a set of handheld computers and related software for their classrooms. Teachers may implement any of the software purchased through the grant in their daily lessons to improve student performance. The software is used for group activities or tailored to individuals for specific learning needs.
The latest PDA game initiative is aimed at improving student math and geometry skills:
MathChamp! helps students practice their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division tables. Students can have the game select equations randomly, or choose to focus on particular equations - for example, the eight times tables. For those ready for more of a challenge, they can have fun with fractions, identifying equivalent fractions, decimals or percents, or practicing adding, subtracting, and multiplying fractions.
Working together as a complete learning system, Size It Up's three games, Arrows, Bricks and Numbers, are designed to help young students learn whole numbers, decimals, fractions, mixed numbers, and negative numbers, and even operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.
Shape Up: Geometry offers a fun way for students to learn to identify various shapes and shape properties such as parallel lines, acute angles, and similar or congruent shapes. They get immediate feedback and can review definitions at any time. Student creativity is also stretched as they have fun constructing their own geometric designs and master visualizing slides, flips, and rotations by applying these movements to solve geometric puzzles.
In consultation with educators, Leading Step's programs were created to provide a number of advantages over other computerized learning tools. First, the variety of controls allow teachers to meet a wide range of needs for various students, enabling them to customize the programs for different grade levels, but also to individual student levels, meeting the full range of students in their classes from those still working on basic skills to more advanced pupils.
Further, Leading Step's games help students to learn quickly by immediately informing players of correct or incorrect answers. Instant feedback helps students to adjust incorrect understanding and immediately apply their corrected knowledge to subsequent questions.
Lastly, teachers and parents can easily determine how well players are progressing in developing different math skills using the game score statistics.
"Our learning programs with low-cost PDAs provide educators and parents alike a great tool for both enhancing math, geometry and spelling skills and offering increased access to computers, which helps to meet the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act," said Renee Revis, president of Leading Step, Inc. "We are delighted that the students in the Texas panhandle area are enjoying learning math and spelling with our games."
About Leading Step, Inc.
Leading Step, Inc. creates fun, educational games for children from grades 3 - 8 to help them improve their skills in the areas of spelling, geometry and math. The games are played on Palm OS handhelds, which provide parents and teachers a low-cost means of increasing access to computers and learning software among children. Leading Step's games are played by children throughout the entire world. For more information, visit the company's website at leadingstep.com. Schools can also find helpful information at Leading Step's website regarding state standards that each of the company's applications will help teachers to meet which can be used for grant-writing purposes.