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
There are extensive reasons why every primary teacher should use ICT tools in the maths lesson.
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.