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We are making great strides in supporting our students, yet loud and clear are the calls for the sharpening of teaching strategies and intervention methods to better support students’ success in math performance. The use of technology in mathematics is a widely adopted practice in teaching and learning. Technology can potentially support achievement by enabling learners to be independent and creative thinkers, as well as effective problem solvers. Technology can be an essential tool in teaching and learning mathematics, because it:
- Engages students
- Supports their conceptual understanding of real world experiences
- Enhances math standards (or learning objectives)
In short, establishing technology-rich learning environments are an approach for effectively supporting instruction and intervention in mathematics classrooms. Although I will offer a handful of tech tools for use in mathematics, it is essential that educators continue to openly discuss, reflect, explore, and share technology strategies and/or tools used in their own mathematics classes. This is not to suggest that what works in one classroom will work in all classrooms, rather it opens the door for teachers to connect, share, and potentially collaborate to develop meaningful tech-rich mathematics projects.
Identifying Tech Tools for Math
Increasing levels of diversity in students and teachers disrupt the idea that “one-size-fits-all”. Building on this notion, technology infusion in mathematics instruction should happen in a way that supports the achievement of students based upon their individual needs. In the past, technology was primarily used in mathematics to provide drills and practice that supported an increase in the achievement of learners. Such tools still exist in a somewhat more efficient web-based model, such as ST Math, Sumdog.com, and XtraMath.org.
Aside from math practice, tech should also be used in mathematics to engage students in the learning. Without question, Google Apps for Education (GAFE) has opened up a world of possibilities for students and teachers. In addition to using GAFE in the form of virtual manipulatives, the apps can also be used to encourage the development of problem-solving skills through synchronous and asynchronous collaboration(s) on math projects. The examples that can be provided here are endless, students can:
- share fraction number lines with other students (beyond their own classroom), who then add on more fractions (using Google Drawings)
- collaborate on a document as they research new math concepts (using Google Docs or Sheets)
- co-construct surveys and analyze data using statistical functions in spreadsheet (using Google Forms)
- collaborate to create their own real-world word problems and quizzes (using Google Docs and/or Forms)
Beyond collaboration tools, there are also widely used and free media-rich technology options for students. Ideally you will select the tools and programs that contain self-pacing and progress-monitoring features. These particular resources are helpful for students and also ideal for a teacher at the beginning stages of creating personal learning experiences for his/her students.
With pleasure, I can say that there is an endless list of technology tools that can be used for teaching and learning in any given mathematics class. However due to the constant development of technology, attention should be given to identifying the most efficient trending technology tools for use in education. Over time I have learned that Math plus technology does not always equal achievement. It is imperative that we use the time and space offered to us (educators) to reflect on our own mathematical and technological identity and how this informs our teaching. A reflective practice will help us identify effective and safe (privacy polished) tech tools for mathematics instruction in our classrooms.
How will you (or do you) use technology, in mathematics teaching and learning, to develop independent and creative-thinking problem-solvers?
Originally published on Corwin Connect (adapted with permission for SAUSDteam21c): http://corwin-connect.com/2015/04/math-technology-achievement-is-there-something-missing/