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Stephanie Burroughs, Ed.D.

Curriculum Leader, K-12 Education

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9 Ways to Leverage Technology in the Mathematics Classroom

I recently had a conversation with a Mathematics Teacher on the barriers of integrating technology in the Mathematics Classroom. I am admittedly (sometimes) jealous of my English and History counterparts who can seamlessly integrate technology into their classes. The reason for this is mainly that the nature of their coursework is discussion and debate. Writing is a key tool for learning in these contents, so when time came to transition to the world wide web, it was an easy to transition to take these components online. I am of course over-simplifying, but this blog is about Mathematics. 

The typical argument for transitioning to a 1:1 learning environment in Mathematics is that typing Math is difficult. Although innovations in STEM built the devices and methods of communication we use today, it is difficult to find an equation editor add-on on many platforms. But maybe the answer is not just typing math, but rather interacting with Mathematics in new and interesting ways. Here are some ideas for getting you started in leveraging technology in the Mathematics Classroom.

1. Geogebra

Airing on the side of free and easy to relate to, Geogebra is a free software that will allow students to develop constructions and proofs. Students can graph in geometry and explore the relationships between points on a graph, but they can also prove isosceles triangles. This software is free, available for Macs and PCs, and also available within the Google Classroom. Their site also has some supporting information and activities teachers can use. 

2. Desmos

Airing on the side of free and easy again, Desmos is a free and easy application that can be used in a variety of Mathematics courses. Desmos is an online graphing calculator, but more specifically can be used for mathematical modeling. Students can import images and tables into Desmos with their drag and drop feature and can also create their own images. Desmos also has this fantastic set of resources for teachers and some built in sliders for common functions to allow your students to explore and manipulate the vertex form of a quadratic equation, for example.

3. Doceri

If you have an iPad, Doceri is an amazing app for writing and practicing mathematics. Not only is it a corner cutter for the "typing math" dilemna, it also allows you to share images, graphs, and videos, allowing for you to leverage technology to share Mathematical Information. Doceri will give students an opportunity to write and explain what they know without needing to type math. It automatically records your strokes, so you can also use Doceri for flipped learning or simply playing back the step-by-step process for solving a Mathematics problem. 

4. Twitter

The possibilities for twitter are endless. In teaching a high school mathematics course, I used twitter for extra help and announcements by creating a class specific hashtag. Lately, I have been considering leveraging twitter to engage in a global mathematics conversation. Why not create a hashtag that helps kids help other kids in understanding Math? Twitter can allow your students to ask questions, share images and videos of their work, and seek real time support on their understanding of mathematics. Twitter chats support mathematical discourse. 

5. Discussion Boards

There are several Learner Management Systems that have discussion boards as an embedded feature. I use them all the time in a variety of ways. Discussion boards can help you introduce Mathematics vocabulary terms, review difficult homework questions, and ask questions about the day's lesson. My favorite thing to do with discussion boards is assign each group a term and have them research it, define it in their own words, and give a visual representation of what that concept means. This creates a great resource when beginning a new topic. Students can respond to each other's posts and so can you, making this a great opportunity to engage in mathematical discourse. 

6. Blogs

I have seen blogs used in a variety of ways. One teacher was using a blog as an individual project in Geometry class, making it a requirement for students to respond to each other's post on Geometry in the Real World. Another teacher was using blogs to summarize lessons from a student's perspective and would leverage these student driven reports as a source of extra help and support. Blogs are a great way to encourage communication and writing skills in Mathematics. 

7. Padlet

Padlets are a virtual, interactive white board that allow students to anonymously ask questions and contribute to the discussion on a topic. I like using Padlets as a warm-up, asking students what they remember about a concept or how they would go about solving a problem. We can look at it together and develop a rich discussion from there. They are a great way to get students to participate that may otherwise be shy. You can import images and type in Padlet, so there is an opportunity there to have students import Mathematics work into the conversation. You can also embed links. 

8. YouTube

Youtube is fantastic for education. Not only are there opportunities here for students to find extra help videos on a given concept, there are also opportunities for students to publish their instructional videos on your classroom's youtube channel. I have had students find resources for reviewing for an upcoming exam and add them to a google drive or classroom discussion board. I have also had students submit video projects via youtube. 

9. #GAFE

Google does have equation editor add-ons and can allow students to collaborate online, typing mathematics work and discussing the solution strategies for a given concept. My advice would be to create templates for students to use so that they know how to begin in a google doc or presentation and what the expectation would be for collaborating online on a mathematics problem. 

 

These are just a few ideas, but the important piece is that we are not using technology for the sake of using technology, but instead leveraging technology to support discussions and inquiry in the Mathematics Classroom. Ultimately our goal is that our students are able to read, write, and communicate in Mathematics and technology is merely an avenue through which we can encourage this. 

There are many other methods and tools that can be used to support Mathematical discourse, but hopefully some of these can get you started!

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