Archive for the ‘News Flash Items’ Category

“Time” to say good bye to analog time?

                The new math! The current focus is on understanding and explaining not simply doing.  Once named cheat machines, calculators are now a welcome part of any math class. There are even software programs dedicated to the most basic of math concepts.  Technology has infiltrated and changed so many areas of ours and our children’s lives perhaps we should be thinking not only of new curriculum but of our “new world” as well.

                In our connected world that we live in today, many of our students (especially at the upper grades) and adults in our world live in constant contact with their phone, IPOD, monitor, etc. all vividly displaying the time  in a digital format. My question is this? Should we bother to still teach students how to read analog time?

                Think of all of the technology you access in a day…IPOD, watch, cell phone, TV, monitor, laptop, digital camera and any other number of things.  How many of these devices display the time in digital format?  If we are focussed on using our teaching time to explore and illustrate the best, most valuable skills and information; Do we really need to even teach analog time anymore?  I know, I know, it seems wrong to even ask such a question!  I myself immediately think; Yes! Of course we have to teach analog clock reading. What a great disadvantage our students will be at if they don’t have this skill. But when I delve a little deeper into this thought I’m no longer convinced of the analog clocks importance.

                When are these students, young people, and later adults ever going to be without access to a digital clock? Sure my cell phone has the ability to display the time in analog but I very much have to ask it to do so, digital is the default. And yes, there is an analog clock in my classroom but with my cell phone, TV (no longer analog itself, of course!) and 4 computers nearby, I would certainly be able to find the time even if I couldn’t read an analog clock. In preparing our students for a digitally sophisticated future of unknowns, if we have the ability to let a machine do the work for us (in this case the telling time), why not? Why waste valuable learning / teaching time on an antiquated topic? The sun dial had its heyday and then we developed more precise and reliable technology. Is it  now the analog clocks time? Are times tables really the be all and end all? Or is knowing what makes sense and how to use a calculator/ program more efficient?  Does every child absolutely need to know how to do and read cursive writing? It’s a nice idea but… our world now functions from a keyboard, not a feather topped calligraphy pen! Why do we value the immediate response of yes we need to teach our students these traditional topics so much? Is it really worth our valuable learning time or is it simply us (the educators and decision makers) sentimentally thinking that’s the way it’s always been so that’s the way it should be ?

Food for thought!! Enjoy the taste of debate!





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!