Gulp: You Want Me to Use Technology?

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Using technology in the classroom is scary, unpredictable at times, and down right nerve-racking to some people. Students have the ability to run technological circles the size of Jupiter around us. These two ideas come together in each of our classrooms every day. Meeting students, the digital natives as it were, needs technologically is very difficult for us to figure out. However, that does not mean we have the right to say that this technology has no place in our schools or even say that it is harmful. Though it is likely our society will never be the same because of social networking and online media it is safe to say that society would never be the same at any stage in history. Using the latest and greatest technology is as important as using the latest and greatest teaching styles. Math, Language, History, and any other subject taught in school rarely changes. But the way in which students learn best has changed. That is the primary focus of the new standards. Take some time to find a new way to present the same content using technology. Also, take a moment to read this article about using a few pieces of technology in your next unit of study. I think you will find some of the data surprising.

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Integrated Math vs. Traditional Math

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What’s the difference? Integrated math is a series of courses that “integrate” all the main topics in mathematics, i.e. algebra, geometry, data, and trigonometry. Traditional math is an approach that breaks those topics down into their individual parts, i.e. Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and Pre-Calculus. Many high schools offer both course pathways. However, the integrated pathway is typically offered as an alternative for students that are not confident enough in math to take the traditional path. When this is the case the integrated pathway is also typically “watered down” to make it easier for students to pass. With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards ODE, and the writers of the CCSS, are strongly recommending that high schools no longer offer an alternative pathway for the sole purpose of giving students a way to obtain their math credits. Many people oppose the integrated pathway. So, which should you choose? It is the recommendation of this writer that you base that decision on what is best for your students. However, if you are on the fence, choose the integrated approach. Students receive an integrated approach in middle school. The traditional path tends to leave students behind because the topics are segregated and it is not apparent how everything fits together. When choosing this pathway though be sure to consider the implications on instruction. Allow teachers time to be trained and become familiar with the new method of presenting mathematics. The standards are the same but the daily lessons will be quite a bit different. Set teachers up for success and students will be successful too. Click here to read an article on NCTMs website about this topic.

Keeping Students’ Interest

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How many times have you walked into something because you were paying more attention to your phone than where you were going? Our students have the same problem except they have it much worse. The amount of time a student spends immersed in their own digital world is hard to believe. Students are becoming more and more seduced by the power of digital media. What are we going to do about it? Checking all electronic devices at the door usually creates undesirable results and makes students less likely to be interested in school. One option is to use students’ love of electronics to get them to learn. More and more teachers are using online games and tools to enhance their daily instruction. The use of online resources though has its own undesirable consequences. How do you find games that are educational? How do you make sure the game is school appropriate? NCTM Tips gave a helpful guide for using online games including, the benefits of using games, how to choose the right games, and a list of games that are appropriate. Check out the article here. Consider using more games in your instruction but make sure that you take the time to play the games yourself. Your time will be rewarded in student learning.

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