NPS Highlights New Technology That Provides Boost to Math Curriculum

District embraces SMART amp Technology to Enhance Teacher Instruction, Student Learning and Collaboration


December 15, 2015 – Newark, New Jersey – Newark Public Schools (NPS) unveiled a new digital learning program today called SMART amp, a virtual white board that empowers students to better understand critical subjects like mathematics through collaboration and exploration on devices. SMART amp also enables teachers to visualize students’ understanding of mathematics in real time, allowing them to adjust instruction, provide timely feedback, and address misconceptions quickly.  In addition, students are able to use the platform to present their reasoning to one another and to critique the reasoning of classmates as they work through mathematics problems together.

“In order for our students to be prepared for college and career success, they must understand mathematics and be able to communicate their ideas to others,” said Christopher D. Cerf, Superintendent of NPS. “At NPS, we are committed to providing our teachers with the resources they need to engage our young people in more effective learning experiences. By teaching students to use technology to collaborate with their peers to solve a problem, we are giving them the tools they need to be successful as they continue their academics and enter the workforce.”

SMART amp is one of the only education tools that allows for the co-creation of content.  In mathematics, students can create varied paths to a solution while working in the same virtual white space at the same time.  This technology gives educators the ability to quickly evaluate the student learning process to improve achievement outcomes.

“Students want to learn in the ways that are most natural to them. SMART amp is designed to let them access information and collaborate using any Web browser, whether they’re in the same room, across town, or halfway around the globe,” said Greg Estell, Solutions President, SMART Technologies.  “We’re delighted to see NPS adopt SMART amp to help students succeed. And because SMART amp is cloud-based and integrates with Google Apps for Education, the learning curve for students is incredibly short – they research, learn and co-create just like they would outside the classroom.”

In January 2015, NPS piloted SMART amp as part of its ongoing investment in technology.  After seeing its potential to enhance learning, the district introduced SMART amp into the mathematics curriculum in the 2015-2016 school year. Teachers incorporating SMART amp and other math content into their lesson plans receive training and instructional support services through monthly Leadership Institutes for Teacher Teams (LIFTT), Digital Learning Institute (DLI) workshops and Vice Principal Leadership Initiatives (VPLI).

Gina Antonucci, a teacher who is using SMART amp with her students at East Side High School, has seen the benefits of the technology firsthand.  “SMART amp, and its many features, fosters group work and collaboration.  As a result, I have seen students become engaged through mathematical discourse, which in turn provides me with more opportunities for formative assessment than prior to using SMARTAmp.  In particular, the assessment feature has proven to be a great formative assessment tool as I can immediately give meaningful feedback and steer class discussion based on the results.”

SMART amp is one of a number of instructional investments that NPS is making in the mathematics curriculum.  NPS recently adopted Agile Mind, a web-based learning system that provides meaningful math content and instructional support. Agile Mind provides excellent mathematical materials that help students make critical mathematical connections in the classroom.  It also outlines a more intensified Algebra curriculum that accelerates learning for students so they are prepared to take Geometry in the following academic year.

In addition, NPS is incorporating formative assessments strategically throughout the school year to gauge how students are learning and what educational tools best help students understand math content. These assessments enable educators to develop a rigorous and meaningful mathematical experience for children in a timelier manner. NPS is also effectively utilizing innovative technology-enhanced items or digital media within the curriculum to ensure students are understanding the material to prepare for the PARCC exam.

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