By Michael Hilkemeijer
There are many benefits of integrating technology in the math classroom. However, it can only provide effective support where its use is ‘transparent’. It helps teachers demonstrate and explain mathematical ideas and helps students develop their mathematical knowledge.
The ultimate aim of developing student ICT capability is to make the technology transparent. Your students should become so focused on using ICT as a tool to achieve math outcomes that they hardly notice that they are using the ICT itself.
As a primary school teacher, this should be your goal for all students.
They should be equipped with sufficient experience to enable them to use ICT without having to stop and think.
Why use technology in the math classroom?
To develop student ICT capability
Technology is a core part of your students’ life and integrating technology in the math classroom will be crucial in developing their capabilities so that they can become proficient users of ICT.
As ICT capability is developed this way it will also enable you to motivate and engage them in their learning as they learn new mathematical content.
It facilitates contextualising mathematics
Numeracy is essential for 21st-century learners if they are to become critical thinkers, have good job prospects and become an active participant in society. In a society that is dominated by technological developments technology can assist students to be acquainted with applications of math and empower them.
Increase student engagement
In a previous post, I discussed a list of benefits of technology in education and student engagement was one of them. With the integration of technology in the math classroom learning becomes more dynamic and interactive. Multimedia resources like animations can be integrated to help students engage in mathematical concepts.
Deliver personalised learning
When you integrate technology in the math classroom you are providing opportunities to personalise learning for students. No one student is the same as they each have their own learning styles. Through technology integration in the classroom, you can create tailored learning experiences.
Instructional technology will simply your life
Your role as the teacher will never be replaced by technology but it can certainly upgrade your capacity as a teacher while reducing your workload.
Strategies for integrating technology in the classroom
It is never the technology itself that has an impact on the learning but the strategies that you will employ and the instructional decisions that you will make.
While planning for the technology integration in the math classroom it will be important for you to know about the children’s ICT capability in order to pursue opportunities to exploit and expand. It will be part of a set of factors that enable you to prepare a good lesson plan, in the same way, that planning a useful mathematics lesson in shape and space, for example, takes into account the children’s wider experiences, maths capabilities, and opportunities to enhance and to develop them further.
Technology can be integrated into most parts of the math lesson but it is the central part which lends itself most readily to the integration of appropriate ICT.
You might plan to integrate different programs into the lesson including:
- Software to explore number patterns, including the use of the spreadsheets;
- Data-handling software;
- Software for giving instructions of movement and turn in order to develop subject knowledge in, for example, measurement of distance and angle;
- Software for transforming shapes;
- Software for branching and sorting in order to develop logical thinking and problem-solving.
(Allen et. al., 2012)
However, the most fundamental question that you need to ask at this stage is whether the integration of technology in the math classroom is appropriate in order to achieve the teaching and learning outcomes.
For your teaching methodology, you need to consider how the lesson is to be taught as this will directly influence other factors that concern actual classroom techniques. This will largely depend on the content of the lesson but you may also want to make the lesson a practical one.
To do this, you will need to devise activities that enable the children to engage in practical work and then enter the findings into the computer for subsequent analysis. Your ICT teaching strategies should also be based upon relevant underlying educational theory.
The integration of technology in the math classroom can offer powerful support for teaching numeracy and mathematics. It can be where you alone use ICT or where students can benefit from applying their mathematical knowledge in a software environment.
However, it is vitally important that the mathematics objectives overshadow the ICT capability objectives to ensure that the task does not become an ICT skills activity. This can be achieved by constantly monitoring the way the students are solving the problems and doing the tasks so that you are able to show them new or more efficient methods of using ICT to achieve the maths learning outcomes.