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Enhancing Mathematical Learning in a Technology-Rich Environment

Using a Journal Article as a Professional Development Experience


Title:           Enhancing Mathematical Learning in a Technology-Rich Environment
Authors:        Jennifer M. Suh, Christopher J. Johnston, and Joshua Douds
Journal:        Teaching Children Mathematics
Issue:            November 2008, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp. 235 - 241

Rationale/Suggestions for Use:  

This article describes a project used with teachers to help educators recognize and plan mathematics tasks that support a technology-rich environment. Teachers are also provided with a template for planning mathematics tasks that appropriately incorporate technology. This article provides teachers with an opportunity to: work collaboratively to plan mathematics lessons that support a technology-rich environment; to see examples of how technology tools amplify opportunities for extending mathematical thinking; and to discuss how technology can be used (appropriately) to enhance teaching and learning of mathematics. It is recommended that this professional development experience take place in a multi-day format with time in between sessions.

Materials List: 

  • Computers with internet access for participants
  • Copy of the article for each participant
  • Chart paper & markers
  • Copies of the “Advancing Mathematics Thinking with the Use of Technology” planning sheet for participants
  • A copy of the reflection questions (referenced in the Assignment portion) for each participant


Session One 

During the initial session, teachers will engage in a grade-appropriate Illuminations activity. The facilitator will use this opportunity to facilitate a discussion on the influence of a technology-rich environment on five critical features of the classroom: the nature of classroom tasks, the mathematical tool as learning support, the role of the teacher, the social culture of the classroom, and equity and accessibility.

  1. Teachers read the article: Enhancing Mathematical Learning in a Technology-Rich Environment
  2. Divide teachers into grade-band specific groups (Pre-K-2 and 3 – 5) to explore the Illuminations Concentration activity.  This activity can be found at: 
  3. After completing the activity, teachers will reconvene as a whole group. Using the Concentration activity as a model, teachers will discuss how teaching and learning mathematics can be enhanced appropriately by using this activity in their classrooms.
  4. Teachers will return to grade band specific groups to complete the task below:
  • Teachers identify a mathematics area at their grade level that presents a teaching & learning challenge.
  • Teachers will use the template from the article to plan a collaborative lesson in a technology –rich environment to address the identified mathematics task.  These lessons should be shared with other participants and/or the whole group in order to give and receive feedback.  Use these guidelines when considering how to integrate the technology into the lesson:
    • Introducing technology in context
    • Addressing worthwhile mathematics with appropriate pedagogy
    • Taking advantage of technology
    • Connecting mathematics topics
    • Incorporating multiple representations
  • Assignment: Upon going back to their classrooms, teachers will teach the lesson(s) in their respective classrooms and document their thinking through work samples and observation logs. Each participant should respond to the following reflection questions in an observation log:
    • Was technology integrated “appropriately” into the lesson?
    • How did the lesson address the five process standards?
    • What were the added benefits to students in using the technology?
    • How did you challenge the high achievers?
    • Was your lesson appropriately adapted for the diverse learner?
    • Was your lesson developmentally appropriate? If not, what was inappropriate? What would you do to change it?
    • How did your lesson address auditory, tactile and visual learning styles?
    • How did the students demonstrate understanding of the materials presented?

    Session Two 

    Teachers will share and discuss their work with students using student work samples and teacher observation logs. A significant portion of the reflection time should be spent on addressing the observations documented in the observation logs.  Allow time for teachers to revise and edit the technology-based mathematics tasks based on student work and teacher observations.

    Next Steps 

    Teachers select and teach a technology-based mathematics lesson (using a resource such as Illuminations or The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives) in their respective classrooms and document their thinking through work samples and observation logs. Teachers should be encouraged to use the Advancing Mathematics Thinking with the Use of Technology planning sheet as well as the reflection questions to evaluate the experience with students.

    Connections to Other NCTM Publications: 



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