The use of ICT tools in STEM activities in the classroom plays a significant role. There is one thing that the following tools all have in common.
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They have the potential to develop student ICT capability provided that effective teaching strategies with technology are used.
There is one particular type of software which I will not discuss as it does not allow for the development of ICT capability.
Integrated Learning Systems (ILS) such as drill and practice software DOES NOT develop student ICT capability and ICT literacy.
And this should be the aim of all mathematics software in Primary Mathematics.
Great ICT tools for teaching Mathematics
- Databases – the handling of data is a very important part of a mathematics lesson. It involves analysing information collected by the students themselves during a hands-on, practical activity. This can be done with real and relevant data making it an authentic learning experience.
- Spreadsheets – these are designed to help you work with numbers and students can use to do the same too. They can be set up as a number of machines that can repeat calculation processes quickly and easily. They can be used to help solve problems where repeating calculations can help find the answer.
- Interactive whiteboards with the aid of digital projectors – the combination of these two with the addition of the computer itself will allow us to teach mathematics using whole-class teaching methods. It can also be used to help you to demonstrate to students various techniques that they need to use during the maths lesson such as spreadsheet skills.
- Programmable toys – robotic toys can be used as a catalyst for problem-solving from early childhood to primary education.
- Desktop publishing software – this is a great idea for when investigating and designing objects on the screen. They are very useful for studying 2-dimensional objects as they allow you to create simple shapes quickly and easily. Some have built-in functions that allow students to rotate and reflect these shapes once created.
ICT offers powerful support for teaching numeracy and mathematics. It can be where the teacher uses ICT alone or when students use it to gain the benefits from its features such as allowing them to develop ICT capability.
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The Importance of using ICT tools when Teaching Mathematics
Technology is not only inclusive in that it can present information in a variety of ways, but also makes creating your own attractive, stimulating resources a relatively straightforward task.
ICT has a lot to offer students as research shows that with computer-based activities students are more likely to experiment and take risks than without ICT.
Mathematical concepts and logic lie at the heart of the computer's function. So they work perfectly well together. However, it is vitally important that the child is in control of the technology at all times and that it involves high-level decision-making and challenges them intellectually. For this reason, you will only find software suitable for mathematics teaching that is content-free.
The Australian Curriculum Mathematics learning area has also stressed the importance of using ICT tools for teaching mathematics.
As such, the development of ICT capability is practically conducted alongside numeracy learning as stated in the below statement:
"In the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics, students develop ICT capability when they investigate, create, and communicate mathematical ideas and concepts using fast, automated, interactive and multimodal technologies. They use their ICT capability to perform calculations; draw graphs; collect, manage, analyse, and interpret data; share and exchange information and ideas, and investigate and model concepts and relationships.
Digital technologies, such as spreadsheets, dynamic geometry software, and computer algebra software, can engage students and promote understanding of key concepts."
Higher-order Thinking Skills and ICT
Both number techniques and ICT techniques develop higher-order thinking skills when technology tools are used correctly when teaching mathematics.
In terms of ICT capability, when mixed with number techniques involves more than the ICT techniques needed to perform number operations and produce graphs.
ICT capability development in mathematics lessons also involves higher-order thinking skills to identify when ICT is the most effective way of achieving a goal and which ICT tools used in the classroom are appropriate to the task.
Using technology to teach maths can be beneficial to both students and teachers, but only if used correctly. The benefits of technology in education can only be harvested and unlocked in the classroom if teachers are trained with ICT teaching strategies that will impact student learning.
The Importance of ICT in Maths
The ultimate aim in developing student ICT capability is to make the ICT transparent. That is, the children become so focused on using ICT as a tool to achieve other outcomes that they hardly notice they are using technology itself.
This should be your ultimate aim as the primary teacher to enable the children to reach this stage and the best way to achieve this is in meaningful context-driven activities such as that in numeracy/mathematics. So I will show you how to integrate ICT in teaching maths using one of the ICT tools in mathematics mentioned earlier.
One of the first ICT tools for mathematics that comes to mind is the spreadsheet. Teaching with and about spreadsheets you in the following activities:
Selecting appropriate opportunities – this means finding activities in the learning area where spreadsheets can enhance, facilitate or extend children’s learning. An example of an opportunity could be exploring number patterns. Opportunities in the Australian Curriculum Mathematics learning area include the following:
Year 3 – ACMNA057, ACMSP069.
Year 4 – ACMNA076; ACMNA080.
Children can be introduced to spreadsheets through the functions they perform. It may be an idea to draw their attention to the formula determining the function and encourage them to experiment with modifying the formula.
You may also like make the link with calculators placing emphasis on a spreadsheet’s potential for supporting and facilitating calculation.
So there are many curriculum opportunities to think about and to imagine the potential for learning with a spreadsheet in a mathematical context.
Selecting the appropriate opportunities is a key element of your planning.
Planning the incorporation of spreadsheets into curriculum activities – here you must make sure of several considerations. However, in order to plan effectively it is essential that you establish a starting point for their ICT learning journey so that you can give them accurate directions that will enable them to plot a course.
You can set the children a small spreadsheet activity with a number of key ICT techniques that you think will be essential in completing the follow-up activity. That way you can determine what they know and plan to build on it. This is a key part in learning how to integrate ICT in teaching maths.
Once this has been accomplished, you then need to:
- Decide the educational purpose of the ICT activity – to develop ICT capability, to support numeracy learning or both? (I recommend ‘both’).
- Decide the activity provides the children with experiences of using ICT as a tool.
- Determine if there are opportunities to assess their ICT capabilities when using the spreadsheet functions.
Learning how to integrate ICT in teaching maths also involves planning for progression and this where what I said earlier comes in. By establishing their starting point, learning progression can occur both in classroom and throughout the school. So it is a good idea to discuss and plan the use of spreadsheets with your colleagues to share with them key data needed like the context in which spreadsheets were used, the ICT techniques each individual student learned or used and especially the curriculum goals linked to the activities.
While spreadsheets can be introduced to children in the early stages of primary education, their ICT capability development with spreadsheets is achieved in the later stages or when they are in Year 3, 4, 5, or 6. It is at this stage of learning where they can carry out complex calculations and processes such as analysis, interpretation and problem solving.
Using ICT tools for teaching mathematics is about developing student ICT capability in a meaningful context. However, you will need to understand what constitutes ICT capability and the best ICT teaching strategies for primary school teachers to achieve it in numeracy/mathematics lessons.
Thanks for learning how to integrate ICT in teaching maths. To learn more as this is just a snippet of what you will learn, consider joining my online workshop below today.
ICT TEACHING STRATEGIES FOR PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHERS (ONLINE PD COURSE FOR TEACHERS)
Completing this online professional development workshop will contribute to 4 hours of NESA and TQI PD addressing 2.6.2 and 3.4.2 of Australian Professional Standards for Teachers in NSW, Vic, Qld and ACT.
Joining fee: $110