Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Teaching Math with Technology: Oversight and Direction

On March 22, I'll present the ways that I use technology in the math class at the ATMIM Spring Conference. With that in mind, I find that I've become a bit more reflective about the tech I use and how I use it as I want to be able to relay that well to the people who attend my session.

Yesterday it struck me that I use technology a lot to oversee and direct student learning. I also use technology to give me "more hands" so that I can better prioritize and help every student learn.

For example, yesterday while many students were completing a straightforward computation assessment, others were working on a variety of online sites, sites that included Symphony Math, That Quiz, and TenMarks. As students worked all around the room, I could see their data on the computer as I worked with a number of individuals on specific math skill/knowledge needs and coaching.

I checked in now and then to see who was on task and how they were doing, and if someone's data showed that they were off task or meeting struggle, I would call them to the table for a bit of coaching. For example while many children had 20 minutes on task with one tech site, another only had six minutes (clearly he was off on another site), so I called him up to discuss his choices with him and got him back on track. I noted that other children had not completed some assigned tech tasks, and also spoke to them about why they didn't complete the work and what they needed to complete the exercises. Further I use the tech results to help coach students forward. I show them their results in a number of areas and give them suggestions about how they can improve their progress and learning. And, I encourage students to come up and ask questions when they need help or use videos and hints if they are stuck. These tech venues are not only helping students to learn math, but the good use of tech venues is also teaching students how to manage and lead their own learning with questioning, watching videos, using hints, trial and error, coaching, and collaboration.

Use of math tech has me constantly prioritizing and analyzing data to figure out who needs what and determine how I might help all 25 or 26 students in each math class. Of course I wish I had fewer students and more time for the deep, collaborative work I yearn to embed, but I'm doing the best I can to include that kind of learning when and how I can along with the multiple teaching/learning direct lessons, practice, games, and more.

Ultimately I would like to be able to use more tech sites for teaching math, but at this time I am limited in the system where I work due to strict technology guidelines so I work with what I am able to use which includes some good variety including TenMarks, Symphony Math, Code.Org, That Quiz, Illuminations, Splash Math, Google apps, and some other online games. I'd like to see the addition of Minecraft and Khan Academy as well as some of the fact gaming sites that exist. I want to explore Code.org more too as I believe I can implement that better. Currently the tech lab teacher is incorporating Code.org and many students are gravitating to it as an enrichment choice.

But for now, Tech is serving as a good source of math practice and exercise. It's also helping me to oversee and direct my learners while giving me time to work with individuals and small groups with good coaching and teaching.

How is tech empowering what you can do in the math classroom? What programs do you use to help student learn in meaningful and engaging ways? How do you blend learning so that you are blending the use of technology with other worthy teaching/learning efforts? These are questions I'll continue to think about as I prepare for the 3/22 presentation, a presentation I welcome you to attend if interested.