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News >  Idaho

Fifth-graders get a little help in math from Plato

A computer- assisted teaching program named after a Greek philosopher appears to help some students improve their ISAT scores.

The program, called Plato, is designed for students from kindergarten through college and covers the subjects of math, reading and language.

According to Ponderosa Elementary School Principal Kathy Baker, preliminary data show the program helped improve math scores for Ponderosa fifth-graders.

“It’s an interactive program,; some kids can’t take their eyes off of it,” Baker said. She said that each session begins with a tutorial, moving into a practice session and then ending with a quiz.

The state Department of Education funded Plato last fall, and a handful of teachers were trained to use the program last November. A before- and after-school Plato program was offered to students at Ponderosa last fall.

Although funding constraints will likely eliminate the before- and after-school program this year, Baker said students can still use it during school hours.

“This is not just a remedial program,” she said. “If you have a second-grader who is very advanced, they can work ahead during regular school hours.”

Last school year, Baker and Dr. Cherie Majors of the University of Idaho in Coeur d’Alene conducted an experiment. Majors brought some of her college students to Ponderosa to work with the younger students, and it appears the one-on-one instruction made a difference.

Majors has been analyzing the data to see if Plato did indeed increase student’s test scores, and preliminary indications show that Plato clearly helped in math for fifth-graders. Results for students in other grades are pending. The data will also include match samples of students who used Plato versus those who did not.

“The kids liked inductive models, where they had to do their own thinking” Majors said.

Ponderosa is the only school in the Post Falls School District where all of the teachers received training. Other schools are at different levels of implementation.

‘People’s Law School’ classes

The North Idaho College Workforce Training Center is offering “The People’s Law School” to help people get a basic understanding of legal rights and how to effectively resolve legal issues.

The People’s Law School I will be offered Sept. 22 and 29 and Oct. 6, and will focus on criminal law, differences between the state and federal systems, the courts and court alternatives and bankruptcy. The registration deadline is Thursday.

The People’s Law School II will be held Oct. 13, 20 and 27, covering torts, real estate and business law. The registration deadline is Oct. 6.

The People’s Law School III, offered Nov. 3, 10 and 17, will focus on consumer, family and elder law. The registration deadline is Oct. 27.

The classes will be taught by local attorneys and Judge James R. Michaud, chairman of the First judicial district’s Bar Association, which is also sponsoring the classes.

Each class is $15 and will be broadcast simultaneously through interactive videoconferencing. North Idaho residents can take the classes at Boundary Junior High in Bonners Ferry, the NIC Workforce Training Center in Post Falls, the NIC Sandpoint Center, the NIC Silver Valley Center in Kellogg or St. Maries High School.

Register online at http://workforcetraining.nic.edu or call 769-3333.

‘Dare to Dream’ workshop

A free workshop titled “Dare to Dream” will be held Sept. 17 in the Driftwood Bay Room of the Edminster Student Union Building at North Idaho College.

The workshop is for those thinking of attending college, but don’t know where to start. There will be information on various career choices, academic and admissions assistance, financial aid information and referrals to community resources such as child care.

The workshop will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. For more information, call 666-8017.

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