Slide 1: Hello, and welcome to this webinar on math and technology with Daniel Showalter.
Slide 2: Depending on your age, the math classroom may look quite a bit different from when you were taught math. Technology has played a large role in these changes.
Slide 3: In a general sense, technology is anything designed to help make our lives easier. In this sense, even routine objects such as pencils and erasers can be considered technology.
Slide 4: However, in this webinar, we will focus on technology that involves electronics. This type of technology could range from the most basic calculator to more advanced technology such as a Smart Board.
Slide 5: Ever since calculators were first introduced into the classroom in the 1970s, they have played an important role in math instruction. By using a calculator to perform basic operations, students can presumably spend more time on learning the deeper math concepts.
Slide 6: However, allowing students to use calculators in the math classroom has been quite controversial. Opponents of calculator use claim that students rely so much on calculators that they cannot even do routine processes like multiplication or division in their heads. Unable to do mental arithmetic, students struggle with everyday life tasks and tend to be slower at learning more advanced math concepts such as algebra.
Slide 7: Proponents of calculator use claim that calculators, when properly used, help students optimize their time. Rather than spending time on calculations, students can devote their time to learning math concepts.
Slide 8: The debate over calculator use has not been resolved. Both sides make interesting points. As a paraprofessional, you should simply be aware that this issue is controversial and work together with your teacher to identify teaching methods that work best for each student. Principles of universal design for learning—abbreviated as UDL—treat calculators as one important scaffold for learning math. Also, there are plenty of creative options now available, such as a calculator that forces students to estimate a reasonable answer before the calculator reveals the answer.
Slide 9: Although calculators are still common in the math classroom, computers are playing a more and more important role. Computers offer a wide range of ways to help students learn math.
Slide 10: One way that computers are used is through adaptive tutor software programs. These programs analyze each student’s pattern of correct and incorrect answers in order to target the areas where the student appears to need the most help. When one of your students is working with this type of software, the main way you can help is to encourage the student to stay on task.
Slide 11: Other computer options include games, videos, activities, and websites where students can find materials that will help them develop particular skills. Let’s take a quick look at two of the largest sites that offer free resources.
Slide 12: Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org/) is a nonprofit educational group that offers a wide range of instructional videos, exercises, and games in nearly every area of math. The site is excellent for helping students learn specific math procedures and techniques.
Slide 13: The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (http://nlvm.usu.edu/), hosted by Utah State University, is another nonprofit educational site. Manipulatives are concrete objects that students can use for hands-on learning. This website provides virtual versions of the most popular manipulatives with the goal of helping students discover important math concepts.
Slide 14: There are many other freely available resources online for learning math. If you are working with a student who is struggling with a particular skill or concept, consider doing a quick Internet search on the topic. You don’t have anything to lose, and it’s quite possible that you’ll stumble across an innovative way of presenting the topic.
Slide 15: This webinar has touched on just a couple of the main ways in which electronic technology is used in the math classroom. These days, it is not uncommon to find devices such as tablet computers, Smart Boards, motion sensors, and other technological devices in the math classroom.
Slide 16: Regardless of what technologies are used in the classrooms where you work, there is one important thing to remember: Technology alone does not result in better math instruction or in better math learning. Moreover, even when technological options are not available, there are other ways to help students learn math. We should always keep an eye on what the students are actually learning and seek out ways to improve their learning process. Technology helps, but it isn’t essential.