Making smart use of technology

Sinny Mole

In this fast developing world, practically every sphere of life has experienced a technological revolution. Digital technologies are changing the way we communicate with our families and friends and have impacted the way we are learning. These days it is very common to see private and government school teachers and students using technology.

The process of teaching-learning can be enhanced greatly by using technological tools. The smart board is an example. ‘Smart Classroom’ equipment is a solution designed to help teachers overcome new challenges and develop students’ abilities and performance.

The last decade has seen a dramatic change in the way we teach in schools. The school where I used to teach decided (in my last few years there) to adopt modern teaching aids in the form of interactive smart boards and projectors. Until then, an interactive smart board in every classroom was considered a luxury. When I look back, it still seems unbelievable – one day when we walked into our classrooms, we saw the smart boards waiting for us! An “aha” moment for all of us.

The use of smart boards can help make mathematics teaching easier for teachers and understanding of concepts simpler for students. The smart classrooms are networked to a common server where all the digital content is available. Teachers can access the lessons they want to teach and can use appropriate multimedia content and information to make the learning more attractive and effective.

Smart boards make learning fun for students. It can turn a boring lecture into an engaging and interactive session. Instead of just talking about the topic, digital boards engage the learner by displaying content in the form of animation and visuals. It is true that when we learn through visuals, we grasp the subject more easily.

We had started implementing activity-based teaching in primary mathematics. Adopting modern teaching facilities made it much more convenient to implement this programme. For example, while teaching the area-perimeter lesson, square grids, paper cut-outs, geoboard, and string activities were used for demonstrations. With the smart board we were able to provide more hands-on activities and do quick revisions as well.

Resources have an important role to play in allowing teachers to model or demonstrate mathematical ideas and in supporting the development of mathematical understanding and thinking in children. The good thing is that a number of different teaching aids and accessories exist that help to make the whole process of math learning interesting. While some of the resources can be obtained only upon subscription, others are freely available on the internet. To meet the classroom specific requirement, one can also adapt or develop materials in-house on the computer.

For example, digital content can be embedded with hyperlinks to display graphs and videos within the body of materials to aid understanding and to demonstrate a concept. Such tools will help the teachers instantly illustrate concepts during a lesson. With just one click, teachers can bring the outside world into their classroom. For example, pictures of a tiled floor, playground, fenced garden and walkways can be used to explain area and perimeter. This helps save a lot of time and the students get a feel of the points discussed in the class.

Teachers use the internet and gather a lot of study materials appropriate to their area of teaching and learning. These resources collected by individual teachers in school are put together and are referred to as the digital repository. Digital content of all kinds are stored here. The repository supports mechanisms to import and export materials and teachers can locate and retrieve useful digital resources.

These resources bring variety to teaching and learning experiences and act as visual aids to motivate children to build mental images to connect ‘classroom mathematics’ with application in the real world. This highlights the need for teachers to be clear as to why they provide specific resources to recognize and establish the links between practical task, visual imagery created and selected aspects of the lesson planned.

There exists a lack of understanding on the part of some teachers as to how to represent mathematical concepts. However, it is important that you don’t use these resources to simply add ‘fun’ to your lessons.

Teachers should have a rich understanding of the lesson they are teaching and appreciate how knowledge in their subject is created, linked and applied to classroom situations. The most effective teachers have the ability to use a wide range of resources – concrete objects, images, language and symbols – to represent mathematical concepts for their students.

A teacher’s skill can be developed through knowledge sharing sessions and peer coaching.

No doubt, teaching is a complex activity. It is therefore important for teachers to know what materials to use, when to use them and how, in order to make learning and teaching powerful. Used appropriately, digital learning resources can add significant value to enhance the quality of teaching.

Schools must promote the effective use of digital technologies safely and responsibly to prepare students for the demands of an ever-changing world.

Math websites for teachers

Teachers should learn the skills required to successfully plan and teach motivating lessons. It is essential for a new teacher to get ready to spend adequate time for developing interesting lessons. Smart classroom service providers organize special training and hands-on sessions for teachers to enhance their capability of handling the new tech devices.

To strengthen the lessons and classroom teaching, teachers can utilize math websites, knowledge databases, online audios and videos and presentations. The problem is finding the best ones. Many websites have games, interactive activities and resources such as worksheets – they vary in quality and usability. A close study and preview of the material is very essential to ascertain its usefulness.

Here are some useful math websites:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEg3PHVR0vt3azbs_Qk_6cw – free education platform
https://modernchalkboard.com/ – smart board notebook lessons
https://www.youtube.com/user/numberphile/featured – math videos on numbers
https://www.youtube.com/user/tecmath – mental math tricks
https://www.youtube.com/user/mathantics/featured – video tutorials on everything related to Math
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtBtcQJ8_jsrjPzb8i1tOsA – a mathematics education
https://www.youtube.com/user/HEGARTYMATHS/featured – math channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/khanacademy/playlists – math courses and video tutorials
http://www.topmarks.co.uk/Interactive.aspx?cat=1 – math games
http://www.coolmath4kids.com/ – math games
http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/activities/
http://illuminations.nctm.org/
http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/ – teaching resources
http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/activities/
http://www.aaamath.com/ – interactive arithmetic lessons

GeoGebra – unleash your potential

GeoGebra is a dynamic and powerful teaching tool for math teachers. This software is suitable for all levels of education from primary to university and brings together geometry, algebra, spreadsheets, graphing, statistics and calculus in one easy-to-use package.

There are several ways to use GeoGebra for teaching and learning. GeoGebra allows teachers to create an interactive learning environment with multiple representations, computational utilities, documentation tools, and web-friendly features. It promotes experimental and discovery learning for students while visually interacting with geometry, algebra, graphing, etc. This software supports constructions with points, lines, circles, ellipses and parabolas, etc.

For example: To show that the sum of the internal angles of any triangle is 180 degrees, you can drag the vertex of a triangle so as to change its size and shape. See what kind of angle combinations you can come up with. The sum of the internal angles will always be 180!

Teachers can download GeoGebra software
(https://www.geogebra.org) and practice it in their classrooms.

The author has been a math teacher and Assistant Coordinator, Primary-2 at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Vidyamandir, Reliance Greens, Jamnagar. She can be reached at [email protected].

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