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Topic: Further Description of Real World Project Strategies
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Steve Means

Posts: 60
Registered: 12/3/04
Further Description of Real World Project Strategies
Posted: Jun 15, 1995 10:25 AM
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A recent visitor to my classrooms and observer of students in action
wrote this description. I hope this helps clarify what goes on and
responds adequately to the numerous recent requests for more info.
Please email me for more, if you wish.

Article for publication in Bellevue School District Tech Magazine
June 1995

High School Math: It's not just story problems anymore
by Craig Burlingame, District AV and Media Specialist

Talk about student impowerment. Imagine a learning environment
where the students are the experts. Scarry, uh? Well, after seeing some of
Steve Means' SHS math students in action, I'm convinced it's an exciting
future out there that lies ahead and could easily give new meaning to the
bumper sticker that says, "Hire a teenager now, while they know
Officially, it's listed as a math class but instantly you realize
these students won't be working on just story problems today. For on any
given day, Steve Means' students will go far beyond the 4 walls of their
Sammamish High classroom to learn math concepts and so much more.
With help from the internet and the World Wide Web, how they learn
today serves as a model for kids of the not too distant future. For
example, Steve's students have created their own homepage site for
Sammamish on the world wide web. Its value is enhanced by the clever
webbing together of a huge variety of internet resources that are of
special interest to Sammamish High students. This is something that many
companies and businesses have only dreamed about achieving. Little do
Steve's students realize they could probably be hired tommorrow by web page
design companies who are desperate to find people trained with the skill
level demonstrated by the average math student at Sammamish High!
Technology allows for a level of interdisciplinary integration
that could hardly have been imagined. A good example is the Digital Chisel
project students did to show the connection between art and math by using
drawings by Escher. You can readily see how having these creative tools
available can motivate and inspire students to go beyond the bare minimum
in presentation standards. Suddenly students get excited about the
possiblity of combining graphics, text, sound and music to make their
presentations so much more powerfull and really come alive.
Similar approaches are happening in other classrooms as well
including Bonnie Brodd's French class and Carol Kocher's History class.
Here students incorporate multimedia componets into Digital Chisel design
projects. With the introduction of the Internet Club at SHS, students can
access internet resources for any of their classes from the library.
There's also a unique division of labor in Steve's classroom as
well. I happen to have the same scanner in the Media Lab as Steve has in
his classroom and I was experiencing trouble with mine. The documentation
and tech support from the manufactuer was worthless. So, as a last resort
I, the MultiMedia Answerman gave Steve a call to see if he could help me
out. His response was I'd have to check with one of his student experts on
the scanner. Sure enough, Mike Noble knew the problem I was talking
about and offered a solution based on something he picked up on from "the
One of the best insights on how students use technology in the
high school classroom was to see Steve's students in action. Steve's
students have given a couple presentations to adult audiences including one
to the School Board and the EPC. The poise and maturity displayed in
those presentations is most remarkable, especially considering all were
juniors and would form the nucleus of a returning core for next year.
Without missing a beat any one of his students can professionaly
demonstrate how to use the Web search to find resources and information
about virtually any topic.
Another thing Steve is trying in his classroom is portfolios where
the emphasis is on communicating mathematically. Each student is required
to keep an active working portfolio as a kind of toolkit. Resources
gathered here can be used in tests and quizes. Each student performs self
assessment. Students are responsible for managing their individual time
using log sheets and their group time on a common calendar.
In addition each student is responsible for a longterm
investigation as a project, using every appropriate medium to communicate
the results and nature of their study. Another important component is that
students must teach, and not merely present these concepts to their fellow
students. No wonder they feel comfortable presenting in front of large
adult groups, they thoroughly know their material and are confident in this
knowledge. This places students and teachers in similar roles, creating a
web of interactions that supports many styles and levels of learning.

We made the cover of a local business magazine, as well. WhiteRain Films
spent three hours filming us for an upcoming educational film for k12 on
using the Internet ...

from Steven S. Means
Math and Technology Teacher at Sammamish High School

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