Thursday, March 12, 2009

Integrating Technology

I have mixed feelings about my Instructional Technology class. On the one hand, technology is very important and I think it is a good idea to expose students to various modes of technology in the classroom. On the other hand, the technology that I am asked to work with for my Instructional Technology class is at best a mismatch for the kind of classes that I most likely will be teaching.

For example, there have been several assignments that would be more useful for an elementary or middle school age group and a subject far less abstract and exact as math. One example would be the storyboard/ visual learning tool that I blogged about here. In this particular assignment we were supposed to have at least two (apparently) hyperlinks. For a math class, I hesitate to have hyperlinks because if students are given permission to go off on the Internet, what is to stop them from merely looking up the answer to the math question rather than figure it out themselves? How would that be different than handing a student a calculator to teach them how to add, multiply, subtract, and divide?

This man starved himself to death because he was afraid of being poisoned!

We also had an assignment to create an interactive PowerPoint presentation. This was actually a fairly enjoyable exercise for me. Although, I'm not sure if it was enjoyable because I was able to go searching for photos and illustrations of famous mathematicians (click on the photo for the hyperlink to take you away!) and I got to make text spin around. It took me a long time to come up with an application for such a PowerPoint though. I created a study quiz for a group of high school students preparing to go to the OCTM Math Tournament. Because there is no way to track which questions a student would get right it couldn't be used for a regular quiz or something that the student would receive a grade for. And again I had to include hyperlinks. Did you know that you can Google most math problems and come up with an answer? So in summary, an interactive PowerPoint, while fun to create, would only be useful in limited applications.

What about excel? Excel has thousands of applications in math classes. Excel can show students how to use formulas, how to create formulas, how changing variables can affect outcomes. I was really excited to go wild with Excel. And here it should be noted that I am a fairly large geek and I have bought and played with excel formula and function books for fun. But our assignment was disappointing to say the least. We had to make a grade book and have three graphs for three different classes scores in the grade book. I have three problems with this. 1) If I am employed at a school where I will have access to computers for all of my students on an as desired basis, it would be odd that the school would not have enough funding to purchase a grade book software program. 2) For any set of data there is only one graph that will best display the data. For example, if you were going to graph the actions of the stock market based on the daily closing numbers, a trendline line graph would be best. A pie chart, or a bar graph would be odd and difficult to read. 3) Out of all the beautiful things that excel can do, a grade book is what's assigned? Excel isn't just about math. I personally used excel to keep track of the 430 guests invited to my wedding. Excel was used to track wedding expenses (which were graphed), timelines for completion of tasks, who gave what and whether thank you notes were written. I think excel is the most versatile of all the Windows functions and I was saddened that the assignment was to create something that we wouldn't need.

A right triangle inscribed in a circle!

On a more positive note, this week I learned how to use Geometer's Sketchpad. This is one computer application that I will most definitely use when I get hired to teach. Even though I'm fairly well versed in the ins and outs of Geometry, I had a revelation, an epiphany, an Oprah A-HA! moment when I had a triangle inscribed in a circle so that the two of the vertices of the triangle were on the diameter of the circle and I moved the third vertex along the arc. By theorem, the angle of the vertex formed by the point on the arc is a 90° angle. Up until I wiggled that triangle around, I have to admit it was something I memorized, but was skeptical about. Using Geometer's Sketchpad it became a concrete knowledge for me. Imagine the possibilities of incorporating such software into my classroom! I think this would be far more useful than a storyboard. Even though they both are visual learning techniques. The difference is that a storyboard is geared towards stories, and Geometer's Sketchpad is geared towards math (and maybe science).

1 comment:

  1. You have mentioned an important aspects of integrating technology into a classroom, not everyone will (or can) use the same technology resources in the same way.

    I recently attended and presented at the LLT 2009 Conference in Columbus, OH and there were a variety of instructors demonstrating not only traditional uses of MS Office software, but also many free 2.0 items available to educators.


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