Digital Literacy

Good use of technology in the math and science classroom should be interdisciplinary, interactive and meaningful. The digital tools we have at our disposal allow for the melding and weaving of content and competencies together using visual, textual and auditory creation and delivery tools. Moreover, if students can draw relationships between science and math we are moving much closer to an authentic learning experience that mimics the complex intermingling of disciplines we encounter in our daily lives.  

Interactivity goes hand in hand with technology, as an example just last week I 3D printed a slice of Mars where the Spirit rover landed and had the students calculate the area and perimeter of the rover’s path.  The ability technology gives us to make the virtual physical or provide students with tools to manipulate a digital space to solve complex problems and be creative is a marvel.  Finally technology can make learning meaningful, you can see when you apply technology as a learning tool students are engaged and motivated to learn.  The often will take what you have taught them and continue to pursue it outside of the lesson which for me is when I feel the learning has been impactful.

Technology allows a conceptual challenge like place value and decimals, which is something that all elementary students struggle with, to become a transformative learning event.  You can wire up a LED to a raspberry Pi or Microbit, apply a code in Python or Java Script and have the students play around with decimal value to make the LED blink faster or slower. I struggled with place value when teaching using Math Makes Sense but with technology digital meets physical, math meets computer science, and learning becomes authentic and permanent.  Digital technology is nothing without digital literacy, and I often find that a shiny new ipad or macbook computer is expected to be a silver saviour for students lack of interest in outdated teaching methods.  I feel, while important, our focus for Professional Development (at least in my District) seems to still lie with numeracy and literacy.  There are few opportunities for teachers to learn how to incorporate technology into their classrooms, probably because there is no one with the skills to organize that movement.  I hope one day it will be a priority as I feel there is so much more we can offer our students in this new realm.

3 comments

  1. I agree technology should provide opportunities for interdisciplinary understanding. Particularly in high school, students move from class to class, very symbolic of how they naturally compartmentalize knowledge. To be sure, while classes might emphasize one discipline over another, students need to see how subjects work together interacting for a more complete understanding. Project-based learning and tackling real-world problems can be a good start, but how else can we increase cross-curricular learning within our classes?

    Andrew

  2. The new BC curriculum though its focus on “Big Ideas” rather than narrow PLO’s of the past has opened the door for us as educators to look for links between the subjects. Technology is the platform that allows for those links to connect, as coding and math can be used to create interactive language arts stories or 3D printing can build a model of the eiffel tower for French and with google my maps you can place a picture of that tower on a map for a geography presentation. There is no limit to what you can combine with tech but we have been so ingrained as you said to compartmentalize our subjects we just are not thinking that way. The more connections we make the deeper the impact on our students learning as their learning crosses seamlessly between multiple subject areas.

  3. I think you make a good point Nathan when you describe technology as something that should be interdisciplinary. This is really the driving force behind the STEM movement. I believe making real life connections is key and being able to work in raspberry pi or 3D printers, using the math and seeing instant results strengthens connections. Beyond this, it generates high interest and promotes higher-level thinking.

    Finland just announced they are doing away with subjects all together in their curriculum. Don’t think we are quite ready for that but they have the right idea.

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