“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.”-Bill Gates
Using technology is quite different from ‘teaching with technology’. I love to try out various web 2.0 tools, try to play with any and every new tool that I come across through my PLN. But I choose not to take each of these tools to classroom; as in classroom what and how I use technology is decided by what I want to achieve at the end.
Being a mathematics teacher of grade 11 &12 I have the huge task on my hands to ensure that as students move up the scale of difficulty and start learning abstract concepts the subject doesn’t overwhelm them. It is most essential for my students to enjoy what they learn and not get mind blocks for the so termed ‘difficult’ topics. I use technology to make my subject interesting and meaningful, to visualize and explore mathematical concepts, to bring out the creativity of students, to connect with and support the students.
Technology in my teaching has evolved over the past few years. Pre-Calculus and Calculus teaching and learning has become so much more meaningful with the use of dynamic software GeoGebra. It is most rewarding to have the ‘aha’ moment in class as students see and grasp the concept of derivative of a function or trace graphs of trigonometric functions with the help of dynamic applets created with GeoGebra. The dynamic applets have found a place in most of my lessons; in fact, my lessons are incomplete without the explorations possible with such applets. GeoGebra works beautifully for other topics as well; Geometry, Conic Sections and Inequalities are a treat to teach with the help of this open source tool. Though it is not too often but when ever possible I try and get the students to create some of these applets on their own too. This discover and learn opportunity makes a big difference in improving the confidence level of the students.
Online tutorials and some great web resources add in that extra bit of drilling which every student needs to get a good hold of concepts in maths. Animated tutorials like the kind you may find on http://www.calculus-help.com/tutorials have added the connect factor in an otherwise abstract lesson. Years later also students recall the concept of existence of limit of a function with the visual( as in the tutorial) of two friends meeting at a ‘Diners’ which may or may not exist.
The wealth of videos on YouTube is another rich source which I have tried to tap to provide extra help to the students. At times I create my own video to ensure that my students get what is required; even if it is to emphasize the presentation of a certain question or proof of the Binomial Theorem. The possibility of inserting questions in between the videos with the help of EduCanon and EDpuzzle has ensured that students don’t just watch but process the information delivered in the video. The reports generated by these brilliant tools also give me an insight into who has watched and who has not understood what !!
It is also very important for students and I to stay connected with each other and for that Edmodo has proved to be a trusted partner. I get students to join Edmodo groups right on the day one of the school. Edmodo is used to post announcements, share links of the resources including the YouTube videos to watch and also for the continuous assessment. All the lessons, which are delivered in class with the help of PowerPoint presentations, are added into the library to be referred to (by students) at any time of the year. Edmodo has extended the classroom hours beyond the school timings for my students and me. They are free to post their query anytime they want to the group or send me a direct message. Very often before I get to see and respond to the post on the group one or the other student had sorted the doubt and that is where I see technology making a difference. Students are able to voice their doubts and also show their capability, which may not come out in a rushed 35 minutes of class.
Using the feature of Quiz on Edmodo I give my students a chance to do self a assessment in their own time and from the comfort of their home. I use the analysis of their attempt as a feedback, looking at the breakup of the questions attempted correctly and incorrectly to take a call on what I need to revisit. Google forms are also powerful tools for assessment and I bring in their use when I want to differentiate instruction. Technology has made the assessment a true Continuous and Formative assessment.
Edmodo has also opened up a channel of communication between parents and me. They get to see all the posts and stay informed of the progress of their ward in real time.
One of the under used tool in classroom is the camera, which is now readily available to all in the phones. The photographs taken by me while correcting their test papers and assignments help in showcasing the mistakes and model solutions. Students get a chance to learn from their and their peers mistakes by looking at these pictures which are all added in either a Google Album or put together as Google slides which is shared with the students through Edmodo.I also use pictures of the ‘model’ answers- this not only encourages the one whose work is displayed but also guides and motivate others.
The ever-changing world of technology has brought in some wonderful tools for math learning. Desmos - the online graphing calculator is one of them.I and my students take to Desmos any time we need to visualize a graph, but this is not where its usage ends. Desmos has brought out the best of the creativity of my students who used this powerful tool to create some beautiful art work.The work created by them not only showed their artistic talent but also the depth of mathematical understanding of the functions and their domain and range.
Desmos Classroom Activities has added a new dimension to my classroom teaching. As students play the online activity, they not only learn the concepts but they also exhibit their understanding. With the Teacher’s dashboard I get a real time feedback on progress of the students and am able to step up to the student who is struggling to apply and complete the task.
The real time feedback and the possibility of immediate intervention has been made possible only with technology coming into my classroom.
Using Google apps collaboration has become a much more attainable skill in any classroom. As part of the annual ‘Project Work’, my students work on various topics such as ‘Konigsberg Bridge Problem’, ‘Queuing Theory’, Forensics in Mathematics’ etc.Every year students work in groups , prepare presentations (PowerPoint or Prezi) and present to the class.This year we went a step ahead and prepared a Google site with each group allocated a page and each member of the group given the ‘page permissions’. Students worked on Google slides collaborating with each other and contributing in their unique ways. Each group studied the topic and prepared a page with additional information for their peers and a page where team members wrote about themselves and some chose to write for each other. The groups showcased their pages while presenting the topic. I as the owner of the site could monitor their work as it developed and could guide them along in real time.
Students enjoyed working on their site ”Mathematical Medley” and are quite proud of their work getting published on the world wide web.Use of Google sites gave me an opportunity to teach my class the essential 21st century skills.
Google Hangout on Air is widely used for discussions and learning all over the world. I attend and see the recordings of many of such HOA to learn more about EdTech from experts. It was an idea born out of concern for students that took a concrete shape this summer break, when I decided to use Hangouts On Air for teaching maths to my students. We had five HOA to cover the topic of Continuity and Differentiability (Class XII), which was attended live by some students and watched (recorded) later by others. The success of this experiment was in the fact that one of the students volunteered to prepare the topic and present the Hangout with me. It was most heartening to see him taking this initiative and a valuable learning for him as well.
As the Head of Mathematics Department and as a Google Certified Innovator, I train and encourage other teachers to integrate technology in their teaching. I design activities with them suitable for their classroom and support them in executing same effectively. Our school has recently adopted GAFE and class 6,7 & 9 are using Chromebooks and Google Classroom. I am one of the GAFE admin and lead the teacher training of the entire staff for the use of Google Apps.
Integrating technology in my teaching has not only made mathematics meaningful for my students but it has also transformed me from a teacher to a professional learner.