Prov­ince un­veils in­ter­ac­tive math ipad game at O.M. Ir­win School

The Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - SCOTT AN­DER­SON SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

Grade 1 stu­dents at O.M. Ir­win School had a chance to play with a new Gov­ern­ment of Saskatchewan de­vel­oped math and nu­mer­acy skills ipad app this past Thurs­day.

Stu­dents had a chance to view the ap­pli­ca­tion Askî’s Pond, an in­ter­ac­tive game which com­pli­ments Saskatchewan’s Grade 1 math cur­ricu­lum.

“It was re­ally in­ter­est­ing to watch the kids learn about math and hav­ing that tech­nol­ogy in front of them to help them learn. They were pretty ex­cited about it. And it was very in­ter­est­ing to see them in­ter­act with the tech­nol­ogy and learn­ing some­thing that’s pretty im­por­tant,” ex­plained Deputy Premier and Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion Gor­don Wyant who was at O.M. Ir­win School for the Oc­to­ber 18 un­veil­ing.

Askî’s Pond was first pi­loted in the spring, and O.M. Ir­win stu­dents will be us­ing the math as­sess­ment in ad­vance the ma­te­rial hope­fully rolled out to other schools around the prov­ince this school year.

“It’s an in­ter­ac­tive tool to help learn. The tech­nol­ogy’s all around us and so it’s pretty im­por­tant,” Wyant said. “It’s us­ing tech­nol­ogy to help the chil­dren learn. And I think that that’s pretty im­por­tant be­cause as I say tech­nol­ogy’s all around us and we need to em­brace it in terms of as­sist­ing chil­dren in be­ing suc­cess­ful in the class­room.”

O.M. Ir­win School Vice Prin­ci­pal Cur­tis Biem, who had pre­vi­ously worked as a Math Coach for the Chi­nook School Di­vi­sion, said the new tech­nol­ogy is a wel­come tool in the class­room.

“What I saw here to­day was an app that the kids were en­gaged with, they were able to use in­de­pen­dently, the game as­pect was mo­ti­va­tional. I saw that the math, as I was watch­ing over some of the kids shoul­ders, was ba­si­cally ex­actly what we had worked on with kids over that five years as a Math Coach.”

He said tech­nol­ogy like an ipad app does help teach­ers, but it’s just one as­pect of their teach­ing ef­forts in the class­room.

“When there’s some­thing that can be a tool to as­sist them, that’s a good use. But a good app is still just part of a ma­chine, and it doesn’t take the place of a teacher. So it’s a tool in a good teacher’s hand, but if the kids are do­ing some ex­tra prac­tice on their own, or they’re mo­ti­vated to­wards the math, that’s good thing too,” Biem added.

The Help Me Talk About Math in­ter­ac­tive ipad game, which builds on the 2014 as­sess­ment Help Me Tell My Story, also in­cor­po­rates First Na­tions and Metis char­ac­ters.

Wyant pointed out that Saskatchewan is the first prov­ince to in­tro­duce treaty ed­u­ca­tion in the class­room, so this fo­cus is ben­e­fi­cial for all stu­dents.

“I think that en­sur­ing that our kids un­der­stand the his­tory of our prov­ince, un­der­stand cul­tural as­pects of this prov­ince, is pretty im­por­tant. And so as we’re con­tin­u­ing to de­velop cur­ric­ula, as we con­tinue to work on these things in the class­room, en­sur­ing that kids un­der­stand the his­tory of this prov­ince, the im­por­tant roll that First Na­tions have played.”

The en­tire Help Me Talk About Math as­sess­ment in­cludes the ipad game along with a web por­tal which will be launched in Jan­uary 2019 to con­nect teach­ers with par­ents and care­givers to ac­cess ad­di­tional learn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Wyant noted ex­ist­ing fund­ing al­ready pro­vided to School Di­vi­sions be uti­lized in pro­vid­ing com­puter avail­abil­ity in schools.

“There is cer­tainly fund­ing avail­able through the fund­ing model to all the school di­vi­sions with re­spect to en­hanc­ing tech­nol­ogy within in­di­vid­ual schools within school di­vi­sions. So we leave it to the school di­vi­sions in terms of how those bud­gets are rolled out. But if we’re go­ing to use tech­nol­ogy, if we’re go­ing to em­brace it to help the ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence for chil­dren, then we have to be a lot more con­scious in terms of how much money is ac­tu­ally ded­i­cated to that tool.”

“I’ll talk to school di­vi­sions. I’m go­ing to talk to my min­istry about how that’s go­ing to work. Be­cause we need to en­sure that with tech­nol­ogy, if we’re go­ing to use it - and we need to em­brace it to en­hance ed­u­ca­tional out­comes for kids - then we have to make sure that there’s re­sources for that.”

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment is cur­rently head­ing into a bud­get cy­cle and de­ter­min­ing their ed­u­ca­tional com­mit­ments for the com­ing year. The prov­ince re­stored $30 mil­lion in K-12 ed­u­ca­tion as part of the 2018-2019 bud­get, but that to­tal fell short of the $54 mil­lion cut in the pre­vi­ous bud­get.

For the Chi­nook School Di­vi­sion, the im­pact of the 2018 bud­get was ap­prox­i­mately $275,000 less than the pre­vi­ous year, and the $75.2 mil­lion in grant fund­ing did not ad­dress the $6.5 mil­lion bud­get re­duc­tion Chi­nook ex­pe­ri­enced at the start of the 20172018 school year.

“As you know we made a $30 mil­lion com­mit­ment to en­hance ed­u­ca­tional fund­ing last year, and we’re go­ing to con­tinue to have a con­ver­sa­tion with my cabi­net and my cau­cus col­leagues with re­spect to what the bud­get looks like,” Wyant said of the up­com­ing spring bud­get.

“We’ll have more to say about that in terms of what ad­di­tional com­mit­ments we’re go­ing to make to pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion when that rolls out,” he added. “These are all in­vest­ments in ed­u­ca­tion, they’re all in­vest­ments in our fu­ture, and they’re im­por­tant to make. So we’re go­ing to con­tinue to have a strong voice for en­hanc­ing re­sources in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor.”

“It’s one of the rea­sons we come out to visit schools and visit school boards, and visit lo­cal teacher as­so­ci­a­tions, so we can get an idea first hand what the chal­lenges are in the class­room.”

SCOTT AN­DER­SON/SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

Deputy Premier and Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion Gor­don Wyant ex­plored the Askî’s Pond ipad app with O.M. Ir­win Grade 1 stu­dents Em­mer­syn Wolfe and Car­ring­ton Kupczyn­ski on Oc­to­ber 18.

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