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An initiative to increase mathematical literacy
through the use of technology.

Education Foundation of Indian River County, Inc.
The Greatest Idea! Technology in the Classroom Grant
A Whopper of an Idea!

Brian McMahon
Spring 2009
                                                                                  Spring 2009

An initiative to increase mathematical literacy through the use of

As a math teacher, I am constantly bombarded with questions from students regarding the
utility and application of mathematics to everyday life. For some, this question is merely
born from boredom and laziness – some students simply do not want to work. However, for
others, this question is a legitimate concern and illustrates a genuine curiosity about the
world and its surroundings. Apart from the mental exercise mathematics provides, everyday
life is mathematics. The laws of nature govern how we interact within this world and these
very laws are explained through math and science. Throughout life, students of all ages
knowingly and unknowingly live mathematics and to truly appreciate and excel in their
surroundings, students need to be literate in all fields of mathematics.

For me, mathematics excites. It teaches. It confounds. Mathematics arises within a passion
about the world I live in and a desire to share that passion. However, sharing a passion of
mathematics leaves students somewhat lacking if it does not leave the student with the
ability to transform that passion into a tangible pursuit. Through the technology this grant
will purchase, I aim to do just that: provide a meaningful curriculum that increases the
mathematical literacy of students through the use of technology in real world problems.

Amount Requested: $29,830

Submitted by: Brian McMahon, Math Instructor and Math Department Chair

Grade and Subject impacted: Grades 9-12, all levels of mathematics from Algebra I to AP and
     IB Calculus

Principal: Dr. Peggy Jones

School address: 9001 Shark Blvd, Sebastian, FL, 32958


Fax: 772.564.4179


                                                                                   Spring 2009

This proposal seeks a three-pronged approach to increasing the mathematical literacy of
every student at Sebastian River High School. In some ways it represents a brand new
approach to teaching and in others it expands our current technological capabilities. The first
approach is through the use of Vernier Probes and Sensors. Vernier is at the forefront of
data-collection technology providing a wide array of probes and sensors that allow students
to explore real world issues and collect actual data. This alone will bring mathematics to life
– no longer will students be studying the hypothetical. Rather, students will be able to
explore an actual situation and collect real time data. Through the funding provided by
Education Foundation of Indian River County, we will be able to purchase over 20 various
sensors and probes including a pH sensor, barometer, motion detectors, acceleration sensor,
salinity sensor, GPS units, temperature probes, UV sensors, and several others.

 In order to be mathematically literate a student needs to comfortably be able to take the
numerical data collected from a situation and characterize that data through multiple
representations including verbal explanations, visual or graphical representations, and
symbolic interpretations. Research shows lower attaining students prefer working with
tables but have troubles moving between symbolic, tabular and graphical forms, (Goulding,
2008). That same review showed technology that supports multiple representations has been
shown to increase students' use of visualization in problem solving and gains in
understanding, (Goulding, 2008). The Texas Instruments Nspire calculator is our choice to
deliver this technology to our students as it allows a direct interface with the Vernier probes
and sensors and allows students to view multiple representations with ease. Through the
funding provided by Education Foundation, we will be able to deliver the second prong to our
approach of increasing mathematical literacy: 5 classroom sets of TI Nspire calculators.
Students using graphing technology have demonstrated better understanding of functions
and variables, and performed better in solving algebra problems in applied contexts and
interpreting graphs, (Ellington, 2003). However, these calculators come at a significant cost
to students. At Sebastian River High School our student population has 45.3% free and
reduced lunch (an indicator of their poverty level), 2% migrant students, and 14 documented
homeless students. By providing classroom sets all of our students can be exposed to the
technology as needed without regard to a student’s socioeconomic status.

The final prong in our approach to increase student literacy is a technology that will allow
greater teacher communication in the classroom. The CPS Chalkboard is a mobile device
that allows teachers to wirelessly navigate various computer programs through a classroom’s
projector system. Additionally, through the stylus and keypad, teachers can draw additional
diagrams, notate questions, or add examples without having to be bound to the front of the
room. This system will allow teachers to have greater communication both on the individual
and classroom level customizing presentations and demonstrations to the needs and levels of
individual classes. Furthermore, these notations and diagrams can be saved as additional
presentations preserving it for future classes.

                                                                                     Spring 2009

                         Item                           Quantity Unit Price  Total
 TI Nspire EZ Spot Bundle                                      5 $3,918.00 $19,590.00
         each bundle includes 30 calculators and
         storage case
         includes shipping and handling

 CPS Chalkboard                                                12     $350.00     $4,200.00
        shipping                                               12      $15.00      $180.00

 Vernier Easy Link Data Collectors                             40      $59.00     $2,360.00
        shipping                                               40       $5.00      $200.00

 Vernier Probes and Sensors                                     1   $3,000.00     $3,000.00
        includes various probes and sensors
        shipping                                                2     $150.00       $300.00

 Total                                                                          $29,830.00

This proposal will directly strengthen Sebastian River High School’s ability to meet the
Indian River County School District’s goals and objectives. In particular, this program will
directly strengthen our ability to meet Goals 1 and 7 as detailed in the SDIRC Strategic Plan
(Strategic Plan 2005-2010, 2009). The first goal is to achieve academic excellence for all
students as measured by the state of Florida’s school grading system and the No Child Left
Behind legislation with an overall objective to promote lifelong learning for all students. This
proposal, when funded, will provide a meaningful program that will allow students of all
levels the opportunity to explore high level mathematical concepts through real world
explorations resulting in an increase in academic excellence.

Goal 7 seeks to implement state of the art software for all divisions of the district. While this
proposal will not fund any software, it will allow both teachers and students to utilize
existing software in a more efficient and effective manner. For example, our math teachers
use Microsoft PowerPoint to present lessons to students. However, teachers are limited in
that what is presented is largely bound by what they prepare before the actual lesson. With
the CPS Chalkboard, teachers can manipulate presentations by adding examples, further
notations, and illustrating additional diagrams mid-presentation.

Needs Addressed

                                                                                 Spring 2009

The State of Florida has recently changed the Mathematics Sunshine State Standards.
Included in the revised standards are several benchmarks at all levels of math courses that
require the use of graphing technology. This proposal will provide the means to meet these
benchmarks without relying on student funded graphing technology.

Target Group
The target group for this proposal is every student at Sebastian River High School. Because
each teacher will be provided with the CPS Chalkboard and have regular access to the
Vernier Sensors and Probes as well as the TI Nspire calculators, every student will be
exposed to each aspect of our three-pronged approach to increasing mathematical literacy
through the use of technology.

The ultimate focal point of this technology plan is to increase the mathematical literacy of
the students at Sebastian River High School. Beyond the qualitative increase in student
learning, we expect to see dramatic increases in quantitative data. For the previous several
years, our students have been administered common end of semester exams as well as FCAT
Progress Monitoring assessments. After implementation of our proposal, these common
assessments will continue to be administered and the data collected will be compared to prior
years. Through the use of software secured by the district, this comparison is relatively easy
and can be performed at the school site by individual teachers on an as-needed basis.
Because these assessments are administered in October, December, January, and February,
we will be provided continuous data to ascertain the effectiveness of the technology and
adjust activities and lesson plans accordingly.

June 2009: Products purchased, received, and inventoried (Brian McMahon)

July 2009: Activities and Lesson Plans produced by school teachers (Volunteer math

August 2009: Training provided by Texas Instruments and school instructors (Brian
       I have already scheduled two full day training seminars run by TI instructors in
       August and September.

September – December 2009: Activities and Lesson Plans implemented in classroom (All
math teachers)

January 2010: Activities and Lesson Plans reviewed and adjusted as needed (All math

February – May 2010: Additional Activities and Lesson Plans implemented in classroom (All
math teachers

May 2010: Site based program evaluation (All math teachers)

                                                                                 Spring 2009

June 2010: End of year report turned in to Education Foundation (Brian McMahon)

This program will require minimal funding to continue after the terms of this grant.
Therefore there is a high degree of sustainability in subsequent years for this program. The
primary expense will be maintenance and batteries and will be funded through internal

It will be hard to escape knowing the source of this grant once funded. Our program will be
communicated through a variety of sources including the Principal’s quarterly newsletter,
course syllabi for every mathematics course, and through various press releases as
experiments and projects are completed. These press releases will be featured through the
school’s website, the district’s website, as well as submitted to local press outlets.
Additionally, each calculator when inventoried will include a sticker showing Education
Foundation of Indian River County as the source of the funding.

                                                                                   Spring 2009

Ellington, A. J. (2003). A meta-analysis of the effects of calculators on students' achievement
and attitude levels in precollege mathematics classes. Journal for Research in Mathematics
Education , 433-463.

Goulding, M. (2008). The role of ICTS in learning algebraL a systematic review. Research in
Mathematics Education , 93-94.

Strategic Plan 2005-2010. (2009). Retrieved April 1, 2009, from School District of Indian
River County:


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