Math and Technology

This year I have been
reflecting on my math instruction. My class this year is unique in that I have
about 50% of students preforming below standard and about 25% preforming two
grade levels below standard. Additionally, this year I am pressed for time and
find with time restraints and a classroom of diverse needs teaching math can be
very challenging. Thus, for this module I want to learn about ways technology
could help to meet the needs of all my students. I am going to specifically,
focus in on the areas of: strategy development, fluency and automaticity with in
computational skills (e.g., addition, subtraction, multiplication and
division). I decided to focus on this area as research has shown that students
who fail to develop these foundational skills are more likely to experience
difficulties in math curriculum later (Miller, Stringfellow, Kaffar, Ferreira,
& Mancl, 2011

Number Talks

Research has show that student’s
conceptual understanding aids their development in building their fluency and
automaticity (Kling and Bay-Williams, 2015). According
to Kling, fluency is developed when students have the opportunity to
deliberately and explicitly move through three developmental phases by building
reasoning strategies. Kling finds that children generally begin solving math
facts through counting (Phase 1), progress to using reasoning strategies to
derive unknown facts (Phase 2), and finally, develop mastery with their facts
(Phase 3). If students simply memorize math facts as rote facts, they might
fail to develop important conceptual understandings, which puts them at a
disadvantage when attempting to engage in more advanced math work (Kling &
Bay-Williams 2015). I found
the analogy below helpful in illustrating the importance of student’s
development of strategies and reasoning. Learning Scientist Claire Cook states:

Math is not about memorization per se —  “just as a master chef doesn’t go about selecting the right
ingredients in the right amounts because he’s memorized recipes,
but rather because he knows what he’s doing at that level without thinking
about it too hard or too explicitly.” (McGraw Hill, 2019).

Number Talks are one avenue to
build students conceptual understandings. They build students number sense and focus
on student’s understandings of math strategies and abilities to reason when
solving problems. Students just like the master chef from the analogy above do
not solve math problems based on memorization but instead draw from a
repertoire of strategies and reasoning.

How to use Flipgrid for Number Talks

With all that being said,
Number Talks do not entail technology. Nonetheless, I feel that you could
integrate technology into your Number Talks meaningfully into your
classroom.  Using Flipgrid you could pose
a number talk to students. Students then have the ability to listen to, process
and formulate a strategy to solve the posed problem. After having formulated a
strategy students can record and justify their reasoning on the Flipgrid.
Students could also listen, interact, and critique other student’s responses.
When thinking about implementing Flipgrid in this way I think that as a teacher
you would have to be intentional about when you choose to use it and how you
will address misconceptions and give timely feedback.

When’s a meaningful time for Flipgrid?

After having a whole class or
small group Number Talk around a concept (eg., addition) students could go back
and apply their new learning on a Flipgrid which may have a new related Number
Talk or ask students to reflect or analyze the strategies they just covered. This
offers students a chance to apply and reflect on their learning and allows teachers
the ability to formatively assess what students know and which strategies or
misconceptions students may have.

Addressing Misconception and Timely Feedback

If students are interacting or
learning from others Flipgrid posts I think it is important for the teacher to
give timely feedback to students. Especially in cases which students have
misconceptions that may be perpetuated on the grid. However you decided to give
feedback I think it would be powerful for students to then go back to their
original post and address their misconception and/or add on new learning. This shows
other students that making mistakes is part of learning and that as a class
community we value growth mindset.

Other Online Programs

There are many types of
programs out there (Prodigy, Front Row, Xtra Math, Khan Academy, Dreambox) that
could provide students with practice and/or where students can apply strategies
they have learned. Many online programs are adaptive, provide instant feedback
and tend to have incentives or awards built in. These options may be helpful
for students who struggle with math and could increase motivation and
confidence (Outhwaite, Gulliford, and Pitchford, 2017). Additionally,
these programs may provide the teacher with information and can be used a
progress monitoring tool. Teachers can use the data from the programs to
address misconceptions, review or teach strategies or concepts and set goals
with students.

When choosing an online program do your research and be intentional.
Using the SMAR model you could assess how to purposefully integrate the
programs to meet your students needs. Additionally, if using the program as an
intervention the National Research Council, has outlined many
helpful components and states that math interventions be highly and correctly
targeted to be effective (Burns, VanDerHeyden, and Boice, 2008).

How do you use online math programs or
technology in your classroom? Do you have any programs that you’ve found
beneficial to your students learning? Leave a comment below.

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