Posted in Education & Technology, Math Inquiry

Understanding Math & Technology

First, I want to start with saying that I  have a love hate relationship for mathematics. I get when students don’t understand math. I personally call it a “writer’s block.” Students say “I don’t know” for that very real reason and I trust and believe them (not all the time). This is something that has bothered me a lot, because I feel that math teachers know it all and that we (students) miraculously know the material too because we’ve been taught the concept (once).

Second, I want to acknowledge the fact that I am aware that my blogs within my math inquiry hasn’t been about technology per se. However, this is where I hope to redeem myself. I wanted to participate in this group as it was the most interesting and relevant to me as a math tutor. Yet, I didn’t know how to contribute to the technology portion of this. I didn’t even know where to begin. I mentioned this in my first math inquiry blog. Thus, I felt like that lost math student. How is a student suppose to get to the solution, know what they’re looking for, if they simply “don’t know?”

I was searching aimlessly at mathematical topics online, and most of what I was finding were math games or video tutorials. So, it wasn’t until a kind group member guided me and kindly handed me two applications to research, Tiger Algebra and Stack Exchange.

I won’t go into depth here about those two applications, but what I continued to encounter in exploring those two applications were my continuous frustrations with math and technology. What I mean by this is that students I work with that take remedial math and who are required to use an online software are often frustrated with the “learning technology” process. I will even admit that I assist them by entering their answers for them when working with them side by side. It bothers me to see students frustrated in entering the correct answer the wrong way (the software wants responses entered in a specific manner). Not to mention how time consuming this is for the students. By the time I painstakingly enter their response (it is not multiple choice), the students are halfway done working on the next problem. Graphing via some of these software are extremely cumbersome!

These are math students, not computer students who need to learn how to enter mathematics in a scientific way. Let alone these are the students who still have trouble working with a mathematical technology, the graphing calculator. Most students that I work with still don’t know how to effectively find appropriate windows for their graph, nor some know how to properly type in calculations to compute. They often forget their order of operations and that parenthesis and brackets makes all the difference.

So, going back to my first point, I feel that I can relate when students don’t get math. I know that very real feeling. I felt it as I searched for digital applications for this inquiry. Even with the ones that I explored, I was back at square one. I thought in my head, when am I going to use Stack Exchange? Honestly, probably never! It was over my head and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I felt that I need to be a math genius to use that site. As with Tiger Algebra, this was really cool but I wonder if my college students will use this site effectively to help themselves as oppose to cheat themselves from the learning. It will take a certain skill set for one to incorporate technology into learning math in the classroom; and I must say that students who have math teachers like Dan Meyer and Mrs. Cathy Yenca are very fortunate.

In the meantime, I do wonder how I can build it in to my restricted tutoring sessions. I feel like I need to start studying up on this (digital math applications) as oppose to simply pull from the various topical worksheets bank that I have created over the years.

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