Teaching maths with 1:1 technology

Neven Jurkovic

Neven’s interest in teaching mathematics with technology developed while pursuing a Master of Science degree at Southwest Texas State University. Apart from publishing a number of papers on the application of artificial intelligence in elementary mathematics problem solving, Neven is the creator of Algebrator, a widely used maths tutoring software.  Currently, he lives in San Antonio, TX and is the CEO of Softmath.

Website: softmath.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

When students have access to their own Internet-connected devices at any time, both at home and at school, maths instruction has the potential to be revolutionised. Here are three great innovations available to maths instructors in 1:1 classrooms:

1. Expanded Differentiation

1:1 technology allows for extreme differentiation, even individualisation, of both the type of content each student is working on and the tasks each student is asked to complete. Instead of all working on the same topic at the same time, students in 1:1 classrooms can watch teacher-created videos (or videos from an external source) on whatever mathematical topics they need to learn next. Once that’s complete, the student can work on differentiated maths problems that match up with the topic taught in the video. As a result of 1:1 technology, each student can now be permitted to learn at his or her individualised pace, moving from topic to topic as quickly or slowly as needed. This shift to mastery-based learning, rather than calendar-based learning, can completely revolutionise a maths classroom all by itself.

2. Flipping the Classroom

Pioneered by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams in the spring of 2007, the idea of a flipped classroom is straightforward: rather than asking students to listen to lectures in class and complete homework in the evening, the process is reversed. Students in a flipped classroom listen to a video lecture in the evening and then work on problems during class time, allowing the teacher to be present to answer questions as students work. This flipped classroom method also allows students to work together more effectively on the task at hand. While this method certainly has generated a lot of press, both positive and negative, it remains an excellent option for students who each have Internet-connected devices available to them at home.

3. Quit Purchasing Calculators, Textbooks, and Manipulatives

From a pure cost-savings perspective, students in 1:1 classrooms no longer need to purchase graphing calculators, as free online graphing calculators can take their place. Similarly, teachers no longer need to purchase manipulatives like fraction tiles and base ten blocks, as sites like the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives contain a vast collection of free virtual manipulatives for students to use. School districts no longer need to purchase textbooks, either: sites like IXL and Khan Academy are easily detailed enough to become a student’s everyday source of problem sets. For schools worried about the cost of implementing a 1:1 programme, these savings can certainly help to offset the costs of the tech devices themselves.

1:1 technology has the potential to revolutionise virtually all school subjects, but maths in particular can be completely transformed.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonsinger57

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