When you assist with instruction, you can rarely predict which of the many, many things you know might prove useful to students. No educator can control everything, and many really good learning opportunities can come from your observations of interactions—just as Mrs. Baez and Jackson were able to help Jessica in the challenge story.
But as you may have realized, you have to know what technology options are out there before you can connect students (or yourself) to them. Unless you are already well versed in online math resources, you were probably able to answer the introductory challenge questions only in a vague or superficial way. This circumstance is to be expected. It’s why the final question asked you about how you could improve your understanding of technologies for learning math.
This unit introduced you to two of the most useful online math resources, and it gave you a chance to learn a bit more about how to use the calculator as a tool for learning. But this introduction to the topic is just the beginning. In particular, there are so many resources on the web for the full range of K-12 math content that it makes sense for those helping with math instruction to learn more about what is available—and to use it themselves. So we have a suggestion—a sort of long-term project (but an easy one).
A Suggested Long-Term Project
Learning more about technology is mostly a good thing. And you can see from this unit that students can benefit from your help with technology. In revisiting the challenge this time, we want to suggest a long-term project—developing a specific set of technology resources.
- Search for a teacher in your school who uses online resources and seek that teacher’s advice.
- Focus your efforts on the needs of some or all of the students you work with.
- If computer access is an issue for you personally, see if your colleagues (or instructional team) have suggestions.
- Develop a plan that lets you explore technology a couple of times a week. This is actually the hard part.
- Keep notes about what you discover.
- Look for opportunities to do the sort of thing the paraprofessional did in Jessica’s class.
This is an informal project: don’t make it a big deal. Just treat it as a sort of routine footnote to your day and week. Really, it just asks you to keep your eyes open for teaching resources.