Jamesburg students get creative in the classroom

Splitting the atom and learning via streaming Web site.

By: Joseph Harvie
   JAMESBURG — With a click of the mouse, a video showing how atoms move appears on the computer screen in Susan Strumwasser’s sixth-grade class.
   "It is better than the text because you can see how atoms move," said Jared Pearson, one of Ms. Strumwasser’s students at the Grace M. Breckwedel school in Jamesburg.
   With the video’s help, students were given a visual guide to what they had already read in their textbooks. The video was brought to the classroom by the United Learning, www.unitedstreaming.com. Through the Web site, United Learning offers a yearly subscription to over 22,000 videos and 2,000 learning programs for teachers to use as supplements to textbooks.
   "The wonderful thing about united streaming is that it enhances the teaching in the texts," said Ms. Strumwasser. "It is integrated with the curriculum; we used it for social studies, science and for holidays, like Martin Luther King Day."
   On Jan. 16, the students were able to watch a 15-minute clip of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking on civil rights before working on a project describing what freedom meant to them.
   The program was brought to the school’s attention by Mary Ellen Claps, the computer teacher and technology coordinator at GMB and John F. Kennedy schools.
   "Last year I attended a workshop and we were told we could have free access for a year," Mary Ellen Claps said. "Then we decided to renew it for this year."
   All the teachers and students at GMB can use the program and they can even log in to the site from home to do research, Ms. Claps said.
   The teachers can utilize the program to aid in a lesson by either having the students view the video on the computer monitor or by using a projector that hooks up to the computer.
   "The projectors are expensive and there are only two in the building, so if I’m going to show a two-minute clip, I’ll just use the computer. But if it is a longer video I will use a projector," Ms. Strumwasser said.
   The program also breaks the movies into segments to allow teachers to view lessons pertinent to their classroom plan, Ms. Claps said.
   The students were very enthusiastic about the program because of the vivid images it brings to the classroom.
   "If you can’t picture it in your head it lets you see it," said Jimmy Nemeth, a student in Ms. Strumwasser’s class.
   "It teaches us a lot about what the text doesn’t cover and lets you learn more," said sixth-grader Eddie Williams.