By Mr. Thaddeus Abbott
Technology– it can be fun, it can be frustrating, and most importantly, it can be useful. Being technologically literate is vital to our students’ futures as we help them develop the 21st century skills they will need to be successful. This doesn’t just mean keeping up with the latest gadget, but teaching our students the how, when, what, and why of using technology. This is modeled when teachers choose to integrate technology in their classrooms. When choosing to use technology, I ask myself three questions: Will the students find it engaging? Will it add another layer of understanding? Will it provide feedback to help individualize and guide instruction?
Whether preparing a PowerPoint or Prezi to introduce new concepts, researching, choosing, or making a video to connect concepts being learned to their application in real world situations, or selecting a catchy song to inspire students to remember vocabulary and relationships, our MacBook Pro easily connects through AirPlay to our classroom projector to open up new worlds. In my 6th grade, Pre-algebra, Geometry, and Pre-calculus classes technology is being explored and used purposefully to not only enhance learning, but also to gather valuable data and feedback to help individualize instruction. Through an interactive online educational program, IXL (pronounced I excel), students have unlimited access to practice the skills and concepts being learned in class. The program provides immediate feedback, explanations of solutions, and on-going diagnostics. It has been an effective resource to assist in diagnosing students’ strengths and weaknesses, while recommending concepts to help fill learning gaps or introduce new challenges. Not only that, when using the program, our iPads allow each student to be connected and work at their own individual pace. The program allows the teacher to monitor each student, step off the stage, and join the students in exploring the world of mathematics while scaffolding their journey.
While mathematics promotes self-discipline, academic endurance, and growth through prosperous struggle, these are profitable side effects of our program’s main goal, the ability to think mathematically. As our students journey through our math program, they arrive at the heart of mathematics– the ability to observe, think, converse, collaborate, take risks, question, and prove. Technology is a wonderful tool to enhance our abilities to ignite each learner’s curiosity!