2/6/2017 6 Comments
Tech as a Tool for Exploration & Visualization
Although I just posted recently that I strongly believe that the classroom needs to be rooted in pen and paper, that does not mean that our students need to be stuck in an era before technology. There is nothing wrong with allowing eager learners the ability to take advantage of living in the 21st century. In fact, that is part of what education is all about. Improving ways to teach, learn, and grow is how we make the world a better place.
I think the most effective way to integrate technology in a math classroom in the 21st century is to use interactive apps that allow students to explore, investigate, manipulate, and visualize properties.
Allowing children and young adults to explore math through virtual tools is amazing. They can discover new connections by engaging on new levels which will increase their academic success. Most of us grew up in classrooms with limited technology. Just a few decades ago there was typically only one computer lab for the whole school and we all took turns getting to experience the cutting edge technology of DOS, Windows and Macintosh.
This was the birth of technology in the classroom; integrating virtual lessons to enhance our comprehension while having fun. And those were the days that were the best. When it was your classroom’s turn to play Number Munchers, you were having a great day at school. You could sharpen your basic math skills while playing video games, which was living and learning in the future to our parents. Not to mention a ton of fun for us kids.
Tech for Hands-On Student Engagement
Adding excitement helps improve the ability to learn through increased engagement.
Our kids get the same thrill and benefit of having technology in their classrooms as well. Even though the technology has grown leaps and bounds since we were in grade school, the feeling is the same. We are instantly more enthusiastic when we are able to explore concepts through other platforms.
Top 7 Interactive Apps & Virtual Tools for an Inquiry Approach
1. GeoGebra - It’s no secret that I love GeoGebra. Their application of dynamic mathematics software is great for all levels of education. It brings together geometry, algebra, spreadsheets, graphing, statistics and calculus in one easy-to-use package.
2. Ooops App - This “Order of Operations” activity is a fun way to practice the order of math equations and problem solving. This addictive game app sharpens math skills as well as cognitive development and critical thinking for any algebra students.
3. Hands-On Equations - Just like it sounds, this Hands-On app allows you to interact with algebra with games and lessons. Students will have fun with the experience of having success with sophisticated algebraic equations.
4. Attributes by Math Doodles - Discover the joy, wonder, and fun of mathematics through patterns and interactive puzzles while using different parts of your brain. The key to understanding math is understanding patterns. That’s why this app is perfect for exploring math. In a brain-based approach like my own favorite Math Doodle Notes, students get to creatively use both hemispheres of their brain while learning basic and complex concepts.
5. Algebra Touch - Students really get a hands on feel with this app. Using the touchscreen technology you can manipulate algebraic equations, such as isolating variable by dragging X’s and Y’s to either side of the equation. It’s a perfect all levels of algebra, from beginners to advanced.
6. Geometry Pad - For a more advanced geometry student, this app packs tons of benefits. Students and teachers can use it in class for a deeper understanding of geometric concepts. Easily create complex geometric sketches, measure everything you have in a document, and experiment with shapes and transformations.
7. PhET Interactive Simulations: Math - “Beautiful and responsive tools bring light to tricky math concepts.” This free app is great for students and teachers in beginner or advanced math subjects. It includes a draggable “Trig Tour,” an interactive “Function Builder,” curve fitting and graphing apps, and more!
Technology will never fully replace performing math by hand, yet it is a fantastic way to explore mathematical concepts. I hope some of these help build your students understanding of higher-level math concepts! Share your own favorites in the comments area below to help us discover more great apps!
To Read Next:
A recent study proved that doodling actually INCREASES focus and the ability to recall new information. With these color-it-in, doodle-friendly note methods, your students can use their colored pencils and the right side of their brains, and then remember key vocabulary, math examples, and new concepts more easily.
Benefits of the "Doodle Note" Strategy:
Students are so engaged with these, and they love this structure. It's so neat to see and hear the connections that stick in their brains. You can truly see the learning and memory benefits at work when students say, "Yeah! I remember when you said that as I was doing little dots around the word "midpoint" and I wrote that formula right in the corner with my orange pen! That's how I remembered it on the test!"
Added bonuses include:
- relaxation and decreased math anxiety
- super engaged students
- excitement about "customizing" the page (They LOVE doodle days!)
- an end result that they want to pull out, show off, and reference as a study tool as much as possible because they are so proud of it
- stronger retention, leading to higher test scores
- brain boosts in other areas, such as creativity & problem solving
I've got free downloads for you to try to see how amazing these are at keeping students focused and engaged. The right brain / left brain crossover is so important in math class!
Why Visual Note-Taking Works:
The student brain processes text information separately from visual input. When we can combine the two, we activate the neural pathways that allow new information to more easily be transferred into long-term memory.
This principle is called Dual Coding Theory, and is one of the biggest reasons that the doodle note strategy leads to stronger retention of lesson material.
Learn More About the Brain Benefits:
These additional articles and downloads will guide you through getting started with doodle notes! There are more free resources, tips for implementation, and more!
First, check out these two articles on Dual Coding theory, which supports this approach to teaching by blending text and images through visual note taking. It turns out that this is a more accurate theory than the popular "learning styles" philosophy.
Dive in to learn about why learning styles are not actually such a valid theory to teach from, and how to use dual coding, which brain research points to as a stronger model of how student brains process information:
Then, explore more articles, a free handbook for getting started with doodle notes in your own classroom. If you teach math, you can also shop for pre-made doodle note sets for math concepts.
Click the images for links!
For more about the brain benefits and research, be sure to check out doodlenotes.org as well!
Want to hear from teacher who are using the doodle note strategy each day in their own classrooms? Head to the "in the classroom" page that I have compiled there to read firsthand testimonials, tips, and tricks for implementing this method successfully.
If you are hoping to dive right in, there are a lot of options. You can get pre-made math sets here in my printables shop, or you can learn to create your own with training, templates, and graphics provided for you in the Doodle Note Club. If you want to keep it simple, just try some templates or DIY sticker sets for a low-prep quick start.
Enter your email in the box below to receive the free doodle note set on quadrilaterals. Give it a try in your classroom. (Or, if you teach another subject, head to my TPT shop to check out the free DIY doodle note sticker set - they work for any lesson and allow students to convert any blank notebook page into a doodle note page easily!)
Here's what Dawn, an Algebra teacher says about using warm-ups: "When I teach completely different preps back to back, I survive on the daily warm-up routine. Students automatically start working, and I pause and get my plan for the period straight. Warm-ups have changed faces over the years in my classroom. From a daily word problem to 5 quick prerequisite problems, all were highly beneficial, but all took preparation. At some point it’s hard to be awesome every single day and still have a life outside of school. I needed a routine that needed no prep."
If you are not convinced to try warm-ups, check out Mrs. E's blog post: "Bellwork Keeps Me Sane."
Once you decide to incorporate a warm-up or bell-ringer into your daily routine, decide what format would be best for your class.
Here are 8 totally different ways that you can kick off your math period. Try a combination of a few of these ideas to get a well-rounded, but consistent warm-up routine.
1. Number of the Day / Function of the Day
I love this new warm-up idea from Algebra Simplified - "After reading an excerpt from a wonderful book on math teaching (that I cannot find to reference), I adopted the Function of the Day. No prep needed; just write a function on the board.
Students write 8 true facts about this function (I don’t even collect it; we discuss their responses). For example, the function today for my Algebra IB students was x-2y=4. Students gave me the linear form, the x & y intercepts, the slope, the equivalent equation in slope-intercept form, equivalent equations using scalars, a perpendicular line, a parallel line, and a random point on the line in function notation.
Two weeks ago they couldn’t even tell me the standard form of a linear equation. All of these concepts taught in a previous math class have been refreshed solely from this warm-up routine and debriefing of student responses. Don’t tell them, but the functions are going to get progressively more complex." - Algebra Simplified
2. "Writing in Math" Question Prompts
3. Problem of the Day/Week
4. Video Warm-Ups
5. Test Prep
6. Review of Prior Knowledge
7. Introduction to New Content
8. Joke / Riddle
Julie from Secondary Math Solutions shared her newest warm-up strategy: "I tried something different last year and just had a joke posted when they came in.
One of my favorites was "what do you call friends that like math"? Algebros!! And from there we would go straight into checking the homework."
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