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Manipulatives ----> technology .... tools we need to think about :)

https://davidwees.com/content/magical-hopes-technology-and-the-reform-of-mathematics-education/   

David Wees brings up a 1992 article about manipulatives and notes parallels in the way people marveled at these new educational tools ... and judged whether a classroom/teacher was doing a good job by... whether they were being used or not, rather than whether students were learning from them. 

He noted that consistently, students do not "see" the same mathematical ideas that adults (esp. math teacher types) do, and suggests we ask these questions:

  • Does using this technology help my students learn mathematics that they can use without the use of this technology?
  • How will someone who does not yet know the mathematics embedded within this technological tool see the mathematics?
  • Does this technology focus solely on the acquisition of a limited set of mathematical knowledge or is it possible for students to use deliberate practice to identify patterns across different problems and acquire new mathematical ideas?
  • Does this technology make it harder for my students to interact with each other and with me?
  • How will I learn how my students understand the mathematical ideas that are the focus of this lesson?
  • Who is the audience of this technology?
  • Does this technology exacerbate existing inequities in mathematics education?

 

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Comments

David J. Rosen's picture

Hello Susan,

Thanks for bringing our attention to the David Wees article and the questions he poses about the use of a new mathematics technology. Of course, his questions are about tools for math teaching/learning but some of them, slightly re-phrased, might also apply to digital technologies (hardware and software) that we use for all kinds of teaching and learning.

For example:

  • Does using this technology help my students learn better than they can without the use of this technology?
  • Does this technology make it harder for my students to interact with each other and with me?
  • How will I learn how my students understand the underpinning ideas or concepts that are the focus of this lesson?
  • Who is the intended audience for this technology?
  • Does this technology exacerbate existing inequities in adult basic skills (including ESL/ESOL} education?

Everyone: what other questions should we be asking about the digital technologies we use for teaching and learning?

David J. Rosen,. Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technologies group

Kathy_Tracey's picture

Friends,
I agree with the focus do questions shared as a guiding point for curriculum development and instruction. The question should always be driven the the learning objectives. What do we want students to know and how will the manipulatives help reach the objective. However, one additional question we should include is about equity and access. How do we ensure students have access to the resources, manipulatives, and technology outside of class?

Sincerely,
Kathy Tracey

Lori Lundine's picture

Hello Susan and David-

Marvelous discussion! I always think about this when I'm at conferences near the sales booths! As a lead instructor that guides a wonderful group of ABE Math teachers, I question the return on investment and the learning curve for the instructors to use the manipulative or technology.  I also make sure that the tool is adult appropriate, that it doesn't make an adult feel patronized. I am 100% on the bandwagon for the use of high engagement activities for enriched thinking.

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