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DOE's Experimental Classrooms Show Promising Results

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There's a growing number of programs that want to do more than bring technology into classrooms, they want to use technology to abolish traditional classrooms altogether. One of those experiments came out of the city's Department of Education and is starting to show some promising results. NY1’s Education Reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

The 120-student class is the smaller of the two math classes at IS 288 in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn. Across the hall, there are 180 students in one room.

Though small classes are usually associated with more individualized learning, in large classrooms, students work at their own pace, according to personalized learning plans.

“It's very original and it’s very unique,” said one student.

The Department of Education developed the idea several years ago, calling it School of One. It's now called Teach to One and managed by an independent non-profit. It's expanded to six schools in New York City, as well as schools in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

IS 228 has been part of the project since the beginning.

“We're actually creating a 21st Century model of instruction. We always worked hard but we're working much smarter using technology,” said IS 228 Principal Dominick D’Angelo.

The technology keeps track of what skills students have mastered and generates personalized assignments based on what each student needs to work on. When they enter the room, they're told where to go, whether it be a small group lesson with a teacher, a math game on a computer, a group problem solving project or a virtual lesson.

“I like learning on the computers personally because it's watching a video, taking notes, because I'm a visual learner, I can't just listen to a teacher talking,” said a second student.

Halfway through the period, students switch to a new assignment. At the end, they take brief, individualized quizzes to see how much they learned. That determines what they'll work on the next day.

“Let's say I have small group collaboration, I don't really get the skill,” the first student said. “Another day I would actually have a live lesson with a teacher and I get everything I need.”

The program got mixed results in 2011, when NYU researchers did an initial study. But Monday, researchers from Columbia said the 2,200 students who participated last year showed an average of 1.2 years worth of growth in math, almost 20 percent more than the national average.

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