Making Technology Second Nature in Your Mathematics Classroom
Technology has become a leading aid in classroom success in the 21st century. In this article, we will look at what dispositions might be holding you back from technological success in your classroom as well as some strategies to implement it effortlessly.
One of the most important aspects of technology in education is its ability to level the field of opportunity for students. – John King, U. S. Secretary of Education (Department of Education, 2017)
Technology in the Classroom
When we discuss technology in the classroom, what exactly are we referring to? According to DataWorks Educational Research, technology in the classroom is any digital tool that an educator may use to help students learn. These tools range from basic and graphing calculators to more advanced digital tools such as smart boards, notebooks, tablets, etc. For this article, we will be referring to how to include digital technology in your mathematics classroom from smartboards, smart manipulatives, and personal learning devices (computers, laptops, tablets, etc.) (Neer et al., 2014)
Making Technology Your Friend
As educators, we are constantly looking to learn and improve our teaching technique. However, when new technology appears in the education realm, it is often hard to accept the changes needed to successfully integrate it into our classrooms due to several factors from personal knowledge of the technology, personal confidence in using it or barrier dispositions on behalf of the educator.
One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to dismiss the new technology thinking the old way is the better way. Although the familiarity of the old ways makes teaching easy and comfortable, it does not allow for students to gain experience with the technology of the future. Our job as educators is to ensure our students have been given every opportunity possible to succeed, this includes being exposed to all different technologies they might need in their future careers.
Another mistake that we can make is implementing the technology without a thorough understanding of the tool. A partial understanding will lead to the same disservice to our students as ignoring the technology completely would do. It is imperative that when we use a new tool in our classroom, we are comfortable, confident, and consistent in our technique allowing students to gain a thorough understanding themselves.
A final mistake that we can make in our implementation of technology is allowing our dispositions to create barriers. If you have a lack of confidence or disdain for the technology that you are teaching, you are creating a barrier between yourself and students’ success. Be honest in your thoughts on technology with your students but don’t let your opinions influence their abilities.
How to Make Technology Your Strength
According to Vannatta and Nancy (2004), not only is the educator’s technology training important in the implementation of new technology in the classroom, but there are two other major factors: willingness to commit time, going “above and beyond” the call of duty and a risk-taking attitude in the classroom.
What does that mean for the classroom? It means as we work to integrate new technologies, we must be willing to spend more time than our contracts allow. We must be willing to learn the technology forward and back, learn the tricks, find the flaws and plan how to teach it.
Finally, we must be willing to move away from the comfortable ways of “how it’s always been.” As technology advances and our students become harder to keep focused, we must be willing to take risks in how we integrate these technologies.
Using Technology for Meaningful Learning
What does successful implementation of new technologies in a mathematics classroom look like?
There are several different ways that we can use digital tools to teach math. As technology grows, this number increases. Let’s look at a few of my favorites.
- Smartboards – Smartboards are a digital tool that allows educators and students to manipulate different equations and graphs through the use of integrated tools (grid lines, inequality symbols, cartesian graphs).
- Digital Manipulatives – Digital manipulatives are appropriate for all age ranges and can be used to visualize multiple math problems, from arithmetic problems to geometry problems and algebra problems.
- Learner Specific Apps – Digital apps are a great way to integrate extra practice in a fun manner into your classroom. If students are able to access personal or classroom devices, using apps such as Prodigy, Homer or IXL are great options to increase student practice and monitor where improvements need to be made.
Sherri Rochel, NCU doctoral student
School of Education: Curriculum and Teaching
Department of Education, U. S. (2017, January). Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education:2017 National Education Technology Plan Update. Office of Educational Technology. https://tech.ed.gov/files/2017/01/NETP17.pdf.
Neer, M., Hudson, P., Michelle, R., & Peterson, R. (2014, July 9). What does technology in the classroom mean? Dataworks Educational Research. https://dataworks-ed.com/blog/2014/07/what-does-technology-in-the-classr....
Vannatta, R. A., & Nancy, F. (2004). Teacher dispositions as predictors of classroom technology use. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 36(3), 253–271. https://doi.org/10.1080/15391523.2004.10782415