Tools and Technology

  • Tools and Technology

    • Create a digital activity library.
    • Make manipulatives and tech tools easily accessible. 
    • Let students choose the tools. 
    • Modernize your math manipulatives. 
    • Make math multisensory. 
    • Let students take the lead on tech development. 
    • Embrace AI to enhance learning and teaching. 
    • Use data to support student growth. 
    • Use technology to engage students in peer-to-peer collaboration. 
    • Use technology to provide equitable access and opportunities for all learners. 
    • Promote responsible technology use in the classroom.

    Read more on how to implement these tips: 

    Create a digital activity library. Create a well-organized digital activity library by compiling a single document with hyperlinks categorized by subject and topic. On days when your regular lesson plan is disrupted, quickly access this document for engaging activities. Include interactive and game-like exercises that reinforce current topics. Utilize online platforms and apps to find and store these activities, ensuring they are readily accessible. For example, use online escape rooms or interactive math challenges to keep students engaged and learning effectively even on less structured days. 

    Make manipulatives a tech tools easily accessible. Keep manipulatives, calculators, and other tech tools prominently displayed and easily accessible in the classroom. Make time in the first few weeks of school for students to engage with these resources, allowing them to become familiar with how they work before using the tools for directed and structured learning. When it's time to use these items for lessons, students will be comfortable and ready to utilize them effectively. Incorporate modern tools like tablets and math apps that offer virtual manipulatives, interactive simulations, and AI-driven learning aids to enhance their learning experience. Additionally, consider integrating augmented reality (AR) applications that allow students to visualize and interact with complex mathematical concepts in an immersive way.

    Let students choose the tools. Offer a menu of tech tools to students when posing problems, allowing them to select the tools they believe will best help them solve the task. While some students may naturally gravitate towards using calculators or other digital tools, this approach acknowledges that not every problem requires their use. By presenting a range of options, you can encourage students to develop problem-solving strategies that incorporate different tools and techniques. Occasionally, you may choose to restrict access to certain tools, such as calculators. This controlled approach can help students develop their mental math skills and understanding of mathematical concepts, preparing them for situations where technology is not available or is restricted, such as state assessments or AP exams. 

    Modernize your math manipulatives. Move beyond the traditional catalog wish list. Embrace a blend of physical and digital tools to cater to diverse learning styles and keep pace with evolving trends. Explore virtual manipulatives like NCTM Illuminations Interactives, GeoGebra, Desmos, or NLVM to offer greater flexibility and accessibility. Don't forget the power of grant writing! Grants can help you acquire the resources you need and even support your professional development in integrating technology into math education. Finally, empower students to create their own manipulatives or digital tools, fostering ownership and creativity in their learning journey. This variety ensures your classroom has the resources to engage students and keep math exciting! 

    Make math multisensory. Mathematics instruction should engage all the senses—touch, sight, hearing, and even smell and taste when appropriate. By creating multisensory experiences, students are more likely to retain and understand mathematical concepts deeply. Here are some ideas: 

    • Kinesthetic Learning: Let students get moving! Incorporate activities that involve physical movement, like building 3D shapes with interlocking cubes or acting out mathematical concepts through drama. 

    • Auditory Engagement: Utilize educational games, songs, or podcasts related to math topics. Explore interactive whiteboards or apps that provide audio feedback on student work. 

    • Visual Stimulation: Go beyond static worksheets. Utilize technology to create dynamic visuals, animations, or simulations that bring math concepts to life. Consider virtual reality (VR) applications that offer immersive learning experiences. 

    • Tactile Exploration: Maintain a variety of manipulatives, both physical and digital, that cater to different learning styles. While taste may not be the most practical approach, explore opportunities for safe and appropriate sensory exploration beyond sight and touch.

    Technology and ToolsLet students take the lead on tech development. When demonstrating technology, such as spreadsheets, apps, or graphing calculators, avoid directly handling the hardware. Instead, choose a student with limited experience to follow your instructions on a projected workstation. This method allows you to move around the room, offer guidance, and monitor student progress, ensuring everyone keeps pace. This approach not only helps regulate the presentation's speed but also empowers students to engage with the technology, promoting independence and confidence in using digital tools. 

    Embrace AI to enhance learning and teaching. Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools have the potential to revolutionize math instruction by personalizing learning and providing dynamic responses to students' needs. By leveraging AI, teachers can create customized application-based problems that cater to students' interests and identify the reasoning behind incorrect answers, offering deeper insights into student understanding. While AI can serve as an invaluable teaching assistant, guiding students through complex problems and offering diverse explanations, it is crucial for teachers to maintain their role in bridging prior and new knowledge. Educators should also instill a healthy skepticism in students regarding AI outputs, emphasizing the importance of verifying results and understanding potential biases. By staying current with AI advancements and actively participating in the development and testing of AI tools, teachers can ensure these technologies are used effectively and ethically, ultimately enhancing both teaching and learning experiences in the math classroom. Read NCTM's position statement on Artificial Intelligence and Mathematics Teaching.

    Use data to support student growth. By leveraging modern educational technology platforms, you can harness the power of student data to personalize math instruction and empower students to take ownership of their learning. This means not just tailoring lessons to individual strengths and weaknesses, but also encouraging students to track their own progress, set goals, and reflect on their learning. Analyze data to identify areas where students need extra support or challenge and use adaptive learning software to adjust the difficulty level accordingly. By giving students the tools and autonomy to drive their own learning, you can foster a sense of responsibility and agency, leading to increased engagement, motivation, and academic success. Regularly monitor data to track progress, celebrate successes, and make adjustments as needed. By putting data in the hands of students, you can unlock their full potential and help them become confident, capable mathematicians.

    Use technology to engage students in peer-to-peer collaboration. Harness the power of online platforms and collaborative tools to encourage student interaction and peer learning. This goes beyond traditional group work. Explore online forums where students can discuss concepts, troubleshoot problems, and learn from each other's explanations. Utilize virtual collaboration tools for group projects, allowing students to work together on documents, presentations, or even digital manipulatives in real-time, regardless of location. Consider incorporating real-time math games or challenges that encourage students to work together, fostering teamwork, communication, and healthy competition in a fun and engaging environment. By embracing social learning and collaboration, you can create a dynamic learning experience that empowers students to learn from each other and solidify their understanding of math concepts.

    Use technology to provide equitable access and opportunities for all learners. Using technology to provide equitable access is crucial in math education. By leveraging tools like speech-to-text, manipulatives, and calculators, we can ensure that all learners can showcase their brilliance and develop confidence in their math skills. We can also use technology to expand upon textbook problems by linking them to real-world examples and applications of math, making the subject more relevant and engaging. Effective integration requires planning and professional development, but by intentionally using technology to empower learners and break down barriers, we can create a more inclusive and successful learning experience for all students. Rather than relying solely on textbooks, we can use technology to augment learning by connecting students with real-world problems and scenarios that resonate with their lives. Read NCTM's position statement on Equitable Integration of Technology for Mathematics Learning.

    Promote responsible technology use in the classroom. Using technology in the classroom can enhance student learning and engagement in math education. With the right tools and resources, devices such as iPads and laptops can become valuable assets for exploring mathematical concepts. For example, interactive math apps, online graphing tools, and digital manipulatives can help students visualize and understand complex ideas. By setting clear guidelines for responsible technology use, we can ensure that these devices are used for educational purposes only. This includes developing a culture of respect, accountability, and digital citizenship. By focusing on responsible device use, we can create a positive and inclusive learning environment that benefits all students. 

    "An excellent mathematics program integrates the use of mathematical tools and technology as essential resources to help students learn and make sense of mathematical ideas, reason mathematically, and communicate their mathematical thinking."