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News Flash- Using Technology to Live Math

Posted on: April 5, 2011

 

Using Technology to Live Math!

Many of us have often heard the expression,” You go to school to learn the three r’s: reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.” As out of date as that saying is, so does the notion that the only effective way to learn math is by repetitive, non- contextual tasks. Not only can students learn an immense amount of information from discussion with their peers but also from the many ways we can incorporate technology into our math classes.

 As a community of educators we seem to have accepted the idea of multiple intelligences http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences as valuable and we seem to have better understanding of how some students need to have information presented and acquired in a non- lecture format. I feel that this is even more the case in the area of math where many students do not ‘buy into’ the ideas that math literacy is just as important as language learning and that math is everywhere.  I think the technologies that we have available to us today can greatly help us rise to the challenge of meeting the diverse learning needs of our students.

Of course time constraints play a role in every teachers plan.  It seems that more and more is placed on us with less and less time to teach effectively.  So that means we should be embracing the best possible way to reach our students.  The internet, software and collaborative online opportunities can help us to do this. We are preparing students for a future that has challenges that are completely unknown. So why do we resist using what we already have to help them get there? Teachers need valuable ongoing professional development in order to more effectively spark deep mathematical learning.

So, what could we use to help our students “live” math? Wikis could allow for collaboration, group problems, learning from one another, it also provides a record to teachers of what their students have done over time.  http://www.suite101.com/content/using-wikis-in-math-classes-a67900 . Using Kurzweil or the Read Text function within Inspiration to do something as simple as read text for a language challenged student allows that student an equal playing field to show their math thinking and not be held back by reading skills.  Finding real life numbers and events help to bring the math into a context for learning (http://www.nctm.org/resources/content.aspx?id=16263 ). Much math software only advances to the next level of skill after the student has demonstrated mastery of a particular subject matter (Mathville, one of many great math learning software packages out there, does this in a rather clever and motivating way.  http://www.mathville.com/demoMathvilleMS/ ). Mathville is a ‘game’ that keeps track of students’ progress for you. This could help with your assessment of learning and for learning all wrapped into one, a readymade, time saver! The visual learners in your class could use websites to manipulate shapes and images and create models to add to their problem solving abilities. Those who need practice with clearly communicating mathematical thinking could be challenged to do so through a blog and have comments from their internet audience to add another dimension to the opportunity. http://misterteacher.blogspot.com/2005/01/using-blogs-as-portfolios-to-increase.html . The shy and quiet students or those intimidated to speak in front of a group now too have a way to have a voice and participate in online discussions. 

Perhaps with a greater focus on individualized math learning and giving a variety of entry points to math learning through technology, whether it is through online activities, more effective presentation of materials or software that is interesting to our students hopefully, we can allow our students to become mathematically literate as well as maybe even, GASP!!!… Enjoy math!

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