Students learn through online games

Students in Ginger Forsythe's math class use Kids College, an online program, to review skills in the computer lab at Columbiana Middle School. | Katie McDowell

By KATIE MCDOWELL/Lifestyles Editor

On a Thursday morning, Ginger Forsythe’s sixth grade math class headed to the computer lab at Columbiana Middle School.

Soon, the room was quiet with students quietly completing math problems and playing football, baseball, snowboarding and other video games. That’s the twist to Kids College, Forsythe said. The online program allows the students to review the math skills they’ve learned in the classroom and the kids enjoy it because they are rewarded with a sports game after completing a certain number of problems.

“It encourages them to build their skills because they are having fun,” Forsythe said.

Forsythe’s students use Kids College for two classes each month. The program is also available for reading and science from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Several Shelby County Schools have begun using the program over the last four years: Columbiana Middle, Thompson Intermediate, Chelsea Park Elementary, Calear Middle, Valley Intermediate and the Linda Nolen Learning Center.

Forsythe said she liked the program because it helped students prepare for the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test (ARMT), a standardized test that assesses students’ mastery of state standards. She said Kids College allows the students to work at different levels. While some of her students struggle with sixth grade math, others can work problems at an eighth grade level.

“It’s a great program because they’re all working on their own needs,” she said. “They jump around on skills. It takes them to the highest level they are able to do.”

For students in Forsythe’s class, the main attraction was the games.

“I like that it allows us to learn with math, but it also allows us to have fun,” Jolena Pearson said.

CMS Principal Cristie Muehlbauer said the school receives a grant to use Kids College and introduced the program to the school four years ago.

CMS students have shown improvement during that time. In the last year, seventh grade reading score increased from 83 to 93 percent and math from 59 to 86 percent. For eight graders, reading scores increased from 71 to 84 percent and math from 79 to 80 percent.

Muehlbauer said she doesn’t believe Kids College is solely responsible for the improvements. However, she has been happy with the program and the technical support provided by the staff. She also likes that students are able to access the program from home, so they can continue the review.

“Every year they seem to improve (Kids College),” she said.

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