To make math class more engaging and relevant, classroom teachers should be integrating technology into the classroom. Especially in math and science courses because professionals who require the use of these topics “cannot do their jobs without technology tools” (Roblyer, 2013). As such, high school students preparing for college and careers must be introduced to technological tools as part of their well-rounded high school experience. We should be preparing students with these skills to tackle whatever they choose to pursue after high school.
Another relative advantage to incorporate technology tools in the math classroom is to enhance and quicken student learning. Tools such as graphing calculators, Geometer’s sketchpad (GSP) and spreadsheet software, allow students to learn material beyond the basics. Instead of continuing to plot every point, as learned in elementary and middle school, high school students can quickly graph more complex rational or trigonometric functions then dive into higher level cognitive skills such as analyzing the graph.
Likewise, when learning constructions in geometry class, more complex constructions can be created on GSP. This allows students to obtain more precise results and eliminate human errors that prevent many students from seeing a pattern. For example, when students construct a point of concurrency like an incenter, it can be difficult to achieve precise results and see that the three angle bisectors do meet at a single point. Technology makes it quicker to see and analyze the results.
Another example is using graphing calculators and spreadsheets in AP Statistics class. To analyze a large amount of data can be time consuming and tedious if students must plot every point by hand. Instead students can put the data into a spreadsheet, then have technology plot all the points. Now students can spend more time analyzing the features of the scatter plot and even using the data to make inferences about the data.
Technology can also allow students to communicate better about mathematics. If every student has a calculator and a task to complete, a small group setting can promote social interaction (Roblyer, 2013) and discussion about the results found on the calculator. Allowing students to work on technology in small groups also encourages students to ask each other for assistance. Working together in teams, asking questions, answering questions and helping each other is vital as outlined by 21st Century Skills.
One last relative advantage to mention involves students and building their basic math skills. Sometimes students reach high school and have gaps in their mathematical understanding. Some students have been seriously ill, have attended an abundance of different schools, or perhaps did not understand a basic math skill after the first introduction. Students that have math gaps in high school tend to struggle immensely. “Computer-based tutoring systems for mathematics have been available for some time” (Roblyer, 2013). Programs such as Aleks can help students find and fill those gaps. These type of programs are more efficient in finding those gaps, providing a tutorial and assessing the new learning than what a regular classroom teacher can do. These type of programs can be an amazing technology tool for students as well as reopen doors to opportunity when these students move forward to college and careers.
The Glossary of Education Reform (2014). 21st century skills. Created by The Great Schools Partnership. Retrieved from http://edglossary.org/21st-century-skills/
Roblyer, M. D. & Doerling, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.