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Pinellas legislators met at the University Student Center.

Pinellas legislators hear support for College of Business, SunBay Digital Math

The Pinellas County Legislative Delegation met at the University Student Center Wednesday and heard strong support for the construction of a building for the College of Business and continued funding for SunBay Digital Mathematics.

Interim Regional Chancellor Bill Hogarth welcomed the lawmakers to their first delegation meeting at the University Student Center. He said it has been an important addition to the campus that would not have been possible without the support of lawmakers. He also asked the legislators for their support for a building for the College of Business, the No. 1 new building priority for the USF System. The college is now spread across six buildings, he pointed out, which hampers communication and collaboration.

Two College of Business students, Lazar Anderson and Josh Moushon, also urged lawmakers to support a College of Business building.

“The building would be a point of pride for the university, as the USC has become,” said Moushon, a senior majoring in Finance. “It’s the next step for USFSP to keep moving forward and to drive education.”

 

Anderson echoed those sentiments. “Looking back on our academic careers, I think we can all remember a small handful of professors who really inspired us to be who we are today,” he said. “They were the type with open doors, happy to have us come in any time and ask for help on anything. Something about the culture of USFSP really brings in those especially inspiring types to teach. Unfortunately, instead of a collection of their minds working together to shape ours, those open doors are scattered across campus, and often hard to find.”

Chris Steinocher, president of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber’s top two legislative priorities are the College of Business building and continued funding for Sunbay Digital Mathematics.

Sunbay Digital Mathematics is a collaboration among USFSP, SRI International, the Pinellas County School District, the Helios Education Foundation, and the Pinellas Education Foundation that is studying new ways to teach math to middle school students.

Chris Steinocher

St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce President Chris Steinocher

“The College of Business is to us a cornerstone of a commitment that this community is focused on business,” Steinocher said. “The business community would see itself reflected in that building. It also is reflective of our interest in making sure we have the kind of workforce that businesses in our community are going to need.”

Finally, he said, it would give the business community “a place to interact with the students to work and grow together.”

Likewise, SunBay Digital Mathematics “is a reflection of priorities,” Steinocher said. “It is a statement about what matters most and it’s about ensuring that we’re doing everything we can so students can learn.”

Digital Math

Pinellas Teachers Enhance Mathematics Education with Technology

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Eleven middle school mathematics teachers from Pinellas County schools developed technology-based lessons this summer to help effectively teach every child that enters their classrooms.

Their work, completed during the first part of a five-course certificate in Digital Mathematics at the College of Education, involved approaching mathematics problem solving with computer applications, web resources and group collaboration. They used an interactive SMART Board, a teaching and presentation touch screen that allows teachers to write on projections in digital ink and interact with applications.

“This was a methods course designed to have teachers teach mathematics in a different way than they may have in the past,” said George Roy, assistant professor of mathematics education and the course instructor. “For their culminating project, the teachers created a lesson for their classroom which addressed the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.”

The teachers presented their projects Aug. 4 to business leaders and a representative from Progress Energy, the organization that funded this first course through a grant, allowing the teachers to complete the course for free. The lessons delved into mathematics problems by first using digital applications to explore mathematics concepts. Their students will use applications to understand concepts such as probability, patterns, and equations to then collaborate with classmates and develop solutions for practical applications.

The content is tied to SunBay Digital Mathematics, a collaborative project among the USFSP College of Education, SRI International and Pinellas County Schools designed to increase student achievement on the major topics of Florida’s Next Generation Sunshine State mathematics standards for grades 6 to 8.

“This whole age of students, they’re used to being immersed in technology and we have to keep up with them as teachers,” said Bridget Bohnet, a sixth and seventh grade teacher at Clearwater Fundamental. “Every child has different needs. This is one more strategy to engage every child because the more hands-on these lessons are, the better. Depending solely on lecture-directed teaching is obsolete.”

The SunBay Digital Mathematics project ties to science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives in the strategic plans of the College of Education, the school district, and the state of Florida. Vivian Fueyo, dean of the College of Education, serves as the principal investigator for the SunBay Digital Mathematics project.

“Success in mathematics and science in the middle grades correlates with future success in the advanced mathematics and science required for access to college and to success in careers such as engineering,” Fueyo said. “Success in school and access to higher education also has impact on the economic development of the region and the retention of intellectual capital.”

The teachers in the certificate program will continue their program with another course during the fall 2010 semester. Concurrently, a new cohort of middle school teachers will be trained in the digital mathematics approaches being studied in the SunBay Digital Mathematics program.

To learn more about the SunBay Digital Mathematics collaborative or if you’re interested in funding tuition costs for the teacher participants in the Digital Mathematics certificate program, please contact George Roy at (727) 873-4646 or royg@mail.usf.edu.