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Tools and Technology

NCTM’s Tips for Teachers

  • Have an activities folder that is categorized by subject and topic. On a fractured day, grab an activity from the folder. These are often game-like and reinforce the current topic. A math bee is a favorite activity.

  • Manipulatives and calculators should be visible in the classroom and easy for students to access. Allow students to explore these materials when they have free time. When the time comes to use the items to learn about mathematics, the novelty will have worn off—students will be familiar with them and ready to use them to solve problems.

  • Let students choose the tools they think will help them solve problems. By watching students select and use materials, you’ll get glimpses into their mathematical thinking, including their problem-solving abilities. Sometimes you’ll even learn new ways to consider a problem.

  • Survey materials you have on hand. Look through mathematics catalogs. Make a wish list, and share it with school administration. Do not let your classroom go without pattern blocks, base-ten materials, and geoboards.

  • Learn to write grants to obtain materials for the classroom. Grants help you expand your professional development and can benefit you and your students.

  • Make it multisensory. Mathematics instruction should stimulate all senses—touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. For example, when students use orange peels to demonstrate that the surface area of a sphere is four times the area of one great circle of the sphere, they will not forget the concept or the experience.

  • Use a “hands-off” approach. Do not touch the hardware when demonstrating to your students how to use, for example, a spreadsheet or a graphing calculator. Instead, select a student who has limited experience using the technology that is to be demonstrated; have the student follow your directions while using a workstation that is projected to the entire class. You are then free to move about the room while giving directions and monitoring your students’ progress. This approach regulates the pace of the presentation, allowing students to keep up with the demonstration and focus on the topic.

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