In elementary math and science classrooms, technology can support learning intentions and big ideas when it enhances student learning or helps to personalize each students needs. In math, technology can help facilitate different groups, as in the Math Daily 3 design. Students can use apps like Book Creator to document examples of different patterns. They can use apps like Show Me, an interactive whiteboard, to share evidence of their learning. Students can watch educational videos to help them understand a concept or idea. Students are able to converse with their teacher outside of school hours for formative assessment and support. Apps like Brain Pop Jr. that provide short, animated and engaging cartoons to present a curricular competency for our visual learners. I believe these examples count as a good use of technology to support math because they enhance the meaning of big ideas and are engaging to a variety of learning styles. Student’s benefit from virtual manipulative’s and programs that correct common errors, rather then having students make the same mistakes over and over on a worksheet. Many apps provide immediate feedback for the learner.
In science, technology can support learning in a number of ways. In our life cycle unit, students took pictures of their plants daily. Being able to zoom in on the roots brought the learning to life. Students made stop motion videos to show how their plant grew daily and for greater observation. Students enjoy using technology to research and watch movies to find answers to their inquiry questions. Students use technology to create iMovies to share what they learned with the class, adding voice-overs, images, videos, and text. These are examples of enhancing learning and providing opportunities for student voice.
When technology is not replacing worksheets or being used as a ‘filler’, but rather being used to integrate meaningful experiences, it changes the way students view learning. Students are engaged, taking ownership over their learning, and we as teachers are creating environments for deeper, authentic learning.
I agree Danielle, when technology can be used to encourage students to take ownership of their work that great things happen. When technology is used to provide multiple entry points to demonstrate their learning like you showed with the science, the challenges of writing (a stumbling block for so many students) is minimized and students are empowered as they achieve success in sharing all that they have learned. I have seen a great lesson by a Kindergarten class that used book creator to document their community and by being able to add voice to their slides they could add meaning and tackle inquiry questions without the need for print.
Hi Sarah, I completely agree with you. There are so many challenges when it comes to written output for some of our learners. One of my students has a learning disability in writing, reading, and math, and yet when technology is introduced, he is able to share evidence of his learning in a unique and creative way. I consistently encourage my students to advocate for themselves when it comes to sharing what they learned, whether it be a ShowMe recording, a written paragraph, a video, etc. When students feel empowered and confident, they have an easier time sharing their understanding. I try to diminish as much anxiety and stress around learning as possible. Math and Science should be fun! I think we need to find more ways to use technology in the class to support this notion. Thank you for your reply 🙂
Hello Danielle. I enjoyed reading your post. I too have come to see that engagement of students in meaningful learning should be a premium. It trumps everything else and most of the things we are looking for (completing work, collaborating, on task, cooperation, loving science/math) all fall into line. In my classes, I find that real engagement in bigger projects requires that students can follow their own passions, but this can lead to issues in managing their learning in two ways. Because they pursue different interests, the physical prep and scaffolding required doesn’t fit our current teaching paradigm. Also, current evaluation methodologies are a poor fit for valuing the broader 21st century skills that everybody seems to want.
As a kid, I would have loved to be in the math and science class that you described. Technology has really opened the doors of education and has taken learning to a new level. These opportunities are definitely more engaging and substantial than they used to be. When I think of all of the interesting and diverse uses of technology, I want to jump to the conclusion that education is better now than in the past. However, I am struggling to understand why (in Ontario) indicators of math achievement have been declining. Over the past few years, there has been a notable decline in our provincial math assessment data. I wonder, do we need more updated forms of assessments, or do we need to backtrack and reexamine the benefits old practices?
Considering the decline in math achievement, I look at the FSA’s as an example. In our inner-city school, many students are English Language Learners, and struggle with text-based questions. They do not perform well with that style of a “test.” However, when they can share evidence of their learning that supports their learning style, they excel. I also wonder if the assessments need to be updated to support our multi-cultural country. I think that many teachers still use old practices, such as drills. In my understanding of math, I want my students to become problem-solvers, not just memorizers of facts. I want them to see what 5 X 5 means, and how this relates to the real-world, rather then just telling me the answer is 25. I think with our new embedding of the core competencies, we are encouraging our math learners to be critical and creative problem-solvers. Thank you for your post. It definitely challenged my thinking this morning.
This is a really important discussion Danielle. Especially using the FSA’s as an example. Our curriculum is asking students to apply their knowledge to “real-world” situations (with a context) and yet they are “tested” on something completely out-of-context; often times on units that they haven’t even learned yet! The “drill-and-kill” approach to subjects, especially in math, causes all sorts of anxiety. If you ask teachers they themselves will tell you they have horrible memories of this approach! But it sure is easy to mark….
There definitely needs to be a shift in how we assess our students. If we are asking them to be reflective learners and critical and creative-problems solvers (which is awesome!!) – perhaps we, as educators, should also start there.