SOE Technology Showcase

Hsuehi (Martin) Lo - Integrating technology in Instructional Mathematics courses

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Since coming to the U.S. from Taiwan, the most important change in my teaching perspective has been the belief that effective teachers need to understand students FIRST. To develop this important concept for my K-6 mathematics teacher candidates (TCs), I effectively introduced iPads and other mobile technology devices into my Instructional Mathematics (ED 407) course. One of the goals of our teacher candidates is to know how to design instructional materials that align with the state’s academic learning standards. They need to demonstrate the ability to differentiate their teaching knowledge and assessment knowledge from K-6 mathematics content knowledge via assigning iPads in one-on-one math teaching projects. My TCs have attained more effective opportunities to meet students’ needs, engage students’ interests and attain MN mathematics content standards requirements.

The one-on-one math teaching project engages real elementary students at Talahi Elementary School and Madison Elementary School. I require each of my TCs to teach elementary students one-on-one. All TCs need to demonstrate ways in which to challenge students who instantly know the answer right away, how to facilitate students who have a difficult time gaining conceptual mathematical understanding, and how to teach math to students in which English is their second language. No matter how many math courses my TCs have taken or how much they like or dislike math, they must teach one single elementary student in front of me successfully, to pass this class. Because of this requirement, my TCs pay more attention to understanding students FIRST. iPads have become the best tool to gain students’ attention, engage students’ interests and attain K-6 math content standards. TCs enjoy exploring the whole iPad environment (not just math games but the meaning of games related to different MN K-6 math standards/benchmarks). Through iPad applications, my TCs understand my interpretation of the two largest concepts in teaching mathematics, which are conceptual understanding and procedural understanding. Teaching mathematics would focus on conceptual understanding rather than procedural understanding. Many games on the iPad, focus on how to model the procedure for students in order to get the answer. As effective math teachers, they need to bring in conceptual understanding by using real life examples, reasoning students thinking path through manipulatives and connecting students’ prior mathematical knowledge. Those conceptual understanding assessments can be on the iPad as well. They confidently tie these two understandings together by using iPads to facilitate their teaching. Once they familiarize themselves with the iPad’s possibilities, they begin to use the devices to prepare, deliver instruction, evaluate students and reflect on their lesson planning. Using iPads to facilitate math teaching is not just game playing, but also can augment the whole mathematics curriculum. Teacher candidates can access math textbooks on the iPads, extend conceptual understanding by using virtual manipulatives, play content-related math games, record students’ performance, save students’ work samples, and reflect on the teaching process. Because of the application of iPads in this project, my TCs experienced a change in attitude from struggling to teach ADHD students or having no clue how to teach ELL students, gifted/talented students, and low-motivation students to enjoying teaching math and being ready to teach math in their student teaching. Using the 13 iPads from CTC has produced incredible and positive changes in my TCs’ attitude about teaching math.

My TCs have experienced the power of using iPads to facilitate teaching. They demonstrate the ability to understand students FIRST in order to provide effective teaching processes for their students. I have seen iPads play a big role in facilitating differentiated instruction for students with diverse abilities, interests, and learning characteristics.

Martin Lo

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