This month’s focus is on the curricular competency: use technology to explore mathematics.
This is the language that is used from K-5 with the accompanying elaborations:
This is the language of the learning standard for grades 6-9:
And this is the language of the learning standard in grades 10-12, with elaborations that are more course-specific:
There are many questions that arise for educators and parents around the use of technology. In some contexts the use of personal devices becomes a management and liability concern for schools and in other contexts there are access and equity concerns around technology. In terms of pedagogy and appropriate use, there is always a professional judgement made as to the suitable use of technology and whether it is enhancing the learning experience in some way. Technology is not to be used just for the sake of using technology but instead, choices are made around technology use based on intention, context and purpose. In mathematics, there are many applications that allow for students to visualize and experience mathematics in ways they would not otherwise be able to (one example is the use of Desmos). Another aspect of using technology in mathematics teaching is as a tool to represent and share students’ learning. There are many accessibility features available on devices for students who may need different tools to support their communication or recording of ideas. Technology can be a powerful tool to support inclusive practices, choice and differentiation.
When we look at BC’s redesigned curriculum for information on the role of technology within a learning environment, the following is shared:
ICT-enabled learning environments
Students need opportunities to develop the competencies required to use current and emerging technologies effectively in all aspects of their learning and life. Technology can facilitate collaboration between students, educators, parents, and classrooms while also providing schools with rich online resources. Today’s technology enables classrooms, communities, and experts around the world to share digitally in a learning experience, wherever they may be.
Communication with families (and others) is an important part of our education system and in our district we are embracing e-portfolios and the use of technology to share and communicate student learning and progress with families. Students are able to take photographs or videos and upload them to their portfolios and annotate their posts with information or self-assessment about their learning. The teacher is also able to add descriptive feedback that is shared between teacher, student and family.
As a classroom and resource teacher and teacher-librarian, one of my favourite uses of technology was the use of screen casting apps. These apps allow students to take a photograph of the math they have been building, creating, diagramming or recording and then use annotation tools such as text labelling and arrows to explain their thinking as well as using audio tools to narrate their thinking. I found that many students were more confident and detailed in sharing their learning through these apps that what I might have found out about their understanding in other ways. There is also an honouring of students’ uniqueness in how they might see or think through the mathematics that can be shown through these types of apps. Some examples of screen casting apps we use in our district our: ShowMe, Educreations, Explain Everything, 30Hands and Doceri.
There are many apps that can support mathematics learning – some are mathematics specific and others are used to represent and share learning. A caution is the type of math apps that are essentially a worksheet and don’t include any sort of feedback to students, visual supports, problem-solving or mathematical thinking. Some locally produced apps include the TouchCounts from SFU that uses the research around gesturing to create an interactive app that focuses on counting and decomposition and composition of quantities. Another series of BC apps are the MathTappers apps developed through the University of Victoria. Each app has visual supports for students developing their understanding of a concept as well as symbolic or abstract notation. There are also choices as the number range that students can work with, allowing for differentiation. These apps are all on our district configured iPad devices. Some specific apps from this series include Find Sums, Multiples, and Equivalents.
The apps from the Math Learning Centre are also on our district configured iPad devices and allow for content creation and capturing students’ process and thinking. These apps are in web-based and iOS and Android formats. More information can be found HERE.
There are also so many apps that allow for students to share their thinking such as ShowMe, Educreations, Book Creator, PicCollage, 30Hands and Doceri.
Tracy Zager shares her ideas on evaluating math content apps HERE. Her non-negotiable criteria are:
1) no time pressure
2) conceptual basis for operations
3) mistakes are handled productively
Read through her blog post for explanation and examples.
The following is a link to some recommended apps and blog posts about students using them from #summertech15 and HERE is a blog post about using iPad technology and specific apps to support all students in mathematics.
Although BC does not yet have a specific statement on calculator use, there is no intent that students will use calculators to complete calculations instead of learning the concepts and practice involved with operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). In some cases, students that have specific learning needs and plans may use calculators as an adaptation. In some cases, teachers may choose to provide the choice of calculators when the focus of the lesson or assessment is not on calculation but on another area of the math curriculum such as problem-solving and calculators can be used for the necessary calculations so that students can focus on the other aspects of the task. Calculators can also be used to investigate patterns and relationships, support student reasoning or justification.
The NCTM has a research brief on calculator use in the classroom which can be found HERE as well as a position paper on calculator use in elementary grades which can be found HERE.
The Math Learning Centre offers a variety of virtual manipulatives in web, iOS and Android formats. They can be accessed HERE.
Desmos is a free, online graphing calculator application that is used by teachers and students all over the world. There are both web-based and app platforms. Students are “able” to play with parameters in an equation and visually see how the graph changes as the parameters change. The desmos staff and teachers across the world have developed lessons and tasks that are open source and shared through the desmos teacher website at no cost HERE. There is also an activity builder so that teachers can create their own tasks.
I attended a math conference a few years ago where Eli Luberoff, CEO of desmos, shared his passion for the teaching and learning enabled and enhanced by this tool. In particular, I was captivated by the marble slides task he shared and the authentic learning that we witnessed happening for students in the video he shared.
More information about Desmos and access to many classroom activities can be found HERE.
Coding and Computational Thinking
There are many links between coding and computational thinking. Two new senior math courses – Computer Science 11 and 12 have been added to our BC curriculum framework and these courses focus on coding, programming and computational thinking. I will be sharing a blog post specific to coding and math in the next few months.
Osmo is an interactive accessory for iPad technology that uses the camera to create Reflective Artificial Intelligence. The red camera clip and white base are used with free apps and game materials that can be purchased online or at the Apple Store. Two of its earliest games focused on mathematics – the Tangram game focuses on spatial reasoning and the Numbers games focuses on decomposition and composition of numbers. Osmo is always developing new games including a Pizza game that focuses on financial literacy and a series of coding games.
More information about Osmo can be found in a blog post here and on their website here. The SD38 DRC has five Osmo kits available to borrow. Note that one iPad device is needed for each kit.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real-world are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities (from Wikipedia). There is an interplay in AR between digital and real-world environments whereas in Virtual Reality (VR) you engage with a simulated environment. A few years ago we had a Google Expeditions team visit Homma school and share their Google cardboard virtual reality devices with the students. A blog post about that experience can be found HERE. This was a first foray into thinking about ways this kind of technology could support teaching and learning. My first experience with AR was a few years ago when the colAR app created a special event to go along with Dot Day (inspired by the book by Peter Reynolds). The information about this can be found HERE and is a great starting point to use AR with students.
Our new technology integration teacher consultant Ellen Reid has been exploring AR with the iPad app AR Maker . We talked about the mathematical possibilities for using AR and along with the development of spatial reasoning, the following concepts came to mind: surface area, volume, transformational geometry, scale, proportion, ratio, 2D and 3D geometry, and composition and decomposition of shapes. The following are some photos Ellen captured as she created AR WODBs (Which One Doesn’t Belong?):
WODB_AR (movie file)
For Richmond teachers, please also check out the Integrating Technology for Teachers page, curated by Chris Loat, on our district portal linked HERE.
Some questions to consider as you plan for learning opportunities to develop the competency of using technology to explore mathematics:
How can technology enhance students’ mathematical experience and see and think about mathematics in different ways?
What specific curricular content and competencies at your grade level could be explored and investigated through technology, including the use of calculators?
How can technology be used to support students’ collaboration and communication in mathematics?
What opportunities are we creating for sharing and communication with families through the use of technology? How are we communicating with parents how forms of technology are being used in our schools to support learning in mathematics?