Recent developments in technology have led to drastic changes in the presentation formats of classrooms. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics made a statement that “teachers … must be knowledgeable decision makers, skilled in determining when and how technology can enhance students’ learning appropriately and effectively” (“What is the role,” 2011). Using technology in the Algebra 1 classroom allows all students to visualize some of the abstract concepts that are presented. Students have the opportunity to engage with higher-level applications of the topics for a richer understanding instead of staying with a shallow, basic rhetoric. Sherman states that technological tools with interactive representations allow students to focus on “looking for patterns and testing conjectures rather than on drawing and measuring triangles” (2014). While his statement is related to a Geometry course, the idea makes an easy transition into an Algebra course as well. Our goal, as teachers, is to help students understand and manipulate the content. If the technology allows us to have students explore more about the algebra topic instead of spending time on basic skills (such as arithmetic or graphing), then we have overcome a sizeable hurdle of the educational process.
In some ways, the math classroom has been using technology longer than other subject areas. The calculator and graphing calculator allow students who lack basic skills to keep up with more proficient students. Teachers have observed students using the graphing calculator are better able to focus on problem solving instead of being held back by lacking fundamental skills. Roblyer notes that “although the current emphasis in mathematics instruction is on learning higher- order mathematics skills, students often need more resources to support the practice of basic skills” (2014).
Technology allows students to follow their curiosity in a risk-free setting. Students can explore the graph of a line in Desmos by continuously adjusting until they can establish a pattern or find the correct answer. The technology can help to bring the “real-world” in the Algebra classroom by showing videos of everyday events in order to see the mathematical connections. “Technologies can also serve as a catalyst to move teachers toward an instructional style that is more student-centered, active, and relevant to the world in which they live” (Roblyer, 2014).
I believe that students need feedback to find out if they are correctly practicing mathematics problems. In the current age of standards based learning, many school systems have decided to save money by not purchasing textbooks since they are not aligned to the standards. Without a textbook, students do not have the answer to odd exercises available in the back of the book. Technology allows me to post the answers to the homework online so that students can view it and know if they are on the right track. Students also enjoy the immediate feedback that can be received from technology games such as Quizzizz.
Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson.
Sherman, M. (2014). The role of technology in supporting students’ mathematical thinking: Extending the metaphors of amplifier and reorganizer. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 14(3). Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/vol14/iss3/mathematics/article1.cfm
What is the role of technology in the teaching and learning of mathematics? (2011 October). National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Retrieved from http://www.nctm.org/Standards-and-Positions/Position-Statements/Strategic-Use-of-Technology-in-Teaching-and-Learning-Mathematics/