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QTL > News > Article Summaries > Current Article

Algebra Meets Technology in VA Classroom

June 27, 2005

YELLOW BRANCH, VA - When Algebra teacher Chip Perkins began to teach students a Standards of Learning (SOL) on Quadratic Equations, he did something he'd never done before. He had his students go to the computer, open a PAINT program and draw the equation. Then, he had them print it out, in color!

But the interesting thing is that Perkins wasn't really interested in his students coming up with the right answer; in fact, he gave them a database that allowed them to check their work and would eventually tell the answer. Perkins is interested in how the students process the answer and particularly WHERE they placed their parenthesis in the formula.

"It's all about process on the SOL's. When we were in school, we had to memorize a lot of formulas, but it's not really about the formula's. It's about how they figure out how to solve the problem."

Chip Perkins (left) talks with Campbell County Schools Technology Director Jim Hawley.

Until this spring, Perkins' lesson plan for this SOL involved him standing in front of his students and doing the talking. This year, a professional development program called Quality Teaching and Learning™ has changed the way he goes about teaching. Now he's sharing what he learned with peers at every opportunity.

"My son came home from school with a chart he had drawn in class that represented a graphic organizer," Perkins says. "The next day, I visited his teacher and showed her the software we already have in the school district. She says next year, she'll teach that lesson with a computer."

Sixteen Campbell County teachers completed the Quality Teaching and Learning™ program in the district's center at the technical school. Five of the teachers are moving out of the classroom into Instructional Technology Resource Teacher positions that will be scattered across the district, which includes schools in Lynchburg and surrounding communities. Perkins is one of those ITRT's. He'll spend next year working with teachers by modeling instructional strategies that use technology as a tool.

"It is best to start out with the content of the lesson, then decide what technology fits the lesson," he says. "If you do it the other way around, you let the technology drive what students learn, and that's not beneficial."

The QTL™ Model links the content, teaching strategies, and use of technology to reach every student every day. In putting curriculum first and technology second, it becomes even more clear how the technology can and does serve as a tool for student success.


For more information, contact Robin Fred via e-mail at or call him at 888.507.3800.

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