Math Inspiration

I was asked yesterday by a math teacher for help.  It was a sincere plea because we do expect all teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum.  The pressure is on now because the end of the year is coming up and accountability will be in place to measure what integration has taken place over the course of the year.  That said, I won’t rant and rave about teachers being resistant to using technology in their classroom.  I heard the sincerity in this teacher’s voice.  He was genuinely in a quandry as to how to integrate technology in the classroom.  He was also puzzled by how on earth he was supposed to find time to learn how to use it much less integrate it into his curriculum.  Truly, his plate was full.

Having been a classroom teacher, I understand where he is coming from.  I personally think classroom teachers have one of the toughest jobs on earth.  They are pulled in many directions, held to high standards, play many roles to students, and meet for hours.  Time is always at a premium:  time to plan, time to teach, time to meet, time to grade papers, time to stay current with your field, and time to learn new things.

We decided to set a date so I could help him.  I am writing this post to ask for math inspiration.  What are best practices for math teachers to integrate technology into their lessons?  What are some great ways to use interactive tablets, document cameras, digital cameras, etc. so that lessons are enhanced and students are engaged?  I welcome any and all ideas here.

2 thoughts on “Math Inspiration

  1. We’ve all seen instances of teachers who seem to ‘get it’ while others seem to really puzzle over how to best use the technology for learning. In my opinion, teachers who have strong, well-formed beliefs about how students learn are able to transfer that and see the learning potential in other technologies.

    For example, teachers who are big believers in collaborative learning with students might have students work in collaborative math problem solving groups and then have each group share their solution to a big ‘problem’ on the document camera. A more traditional teacher may see the document camera as an enhanced chalk board where he/she demonstrates a problem with manipulatives on the document camera and spends the remainder of the math class doing sample arithmetic operations to students using the doc cam. Very different uses of the technology, all based on beliefs about how students learn and therefore how teachers teach.

    Example 2 – Teacher A, a strong believer in constructivist learning, may have a student represent a solution to a math problem with base 10 blocks, and then have the student take a picture of his/her solution. That student later writes a blog post describing their understanding of the concept and uses the picture as a visual reference, allowing other students to benchmark their own understanding of the concept by viewing and posting comments on fellow classmates’ blog postings. Teacher B may walk around the classroom taking pictures of the students working on math problems, and then print those pictures off to give to a student to put in a learning portfolio to share with parents at the next parent teacher conference.

    In summary, my strong suggestion in working with this teacher is to meet with him, discuss his beliefs about learning and teaching, and build off that to see what the capabilities of each available technology and where they might fit.

    As for specific ideas, I’ve listed a couple here, but others that come to mind are using Excel for a graphing exercise or the creation of a time line, the use of Word and the grid and shapes capabilities to teach area and perimeter, and the use of an interactive whiteboard to access online math activities to work through as a whole class. Specific ideas for this teacher may be a band-aid solution however, whereas building off his current and emerging beliefs about student learning may help him develop the ‘lens’ with which to see the potential with any technology. My lenses are clearly rose-colored, but that’s another story 🙂

    Great post!

  2. Thank you for your insight, Danny. You’re absolutely right that a teacher’s beliefs about how students learn influence how technology is embraced in the classroom. I have found that if a classroom is “teacher-centric” the technology is an extension of the teacher. If the classroom is “student-centric” the technology is an extension of the students. I think the best classroom is “learning-centric” where technology is an extension of everyone involved to both facilitate and demonstrate learning. *takes off her rose-colored glasses and steps down from her soapbox* 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s