Posted in Service Learning

In the End…

In the end, another proud learning moments and work production. I have never taken any service credits before, and didn’t know how this was going to work out. What I realized was that this was one of the best way to get your feet dirty into the muddy waters and explore, and not just get your feet wet.

I couldn’t be more happy about addressing my three topics (link to first service learning blog, “Revamping Study Skills Course”) and exploring the digital platforms to have students learn and engaged in the classroom. In the process, I learned the basics to navigate a new Learning Management System, Canvas.

I know that digital media certainly enables connection, creation, and collaboration among the classroom, as I have experiences this myself as a student. Thus, I saw the importance and potential in bringing this to the marginalized students that I work with. I felt that in doing this service learning, I am able to contribute to my college’s mission “by providing high-quality, flexible, accessible educational programs and services; advancing pluralism, inclusion and global awareness; and acting as a catalyst and collaborator for a vibrant region.”

The few tools that I have implemented into creating the curriculum is just the beginning. I had the fortunate opportunity to partner with another colleague to work on the other half for this curriculum, and I am excited to put it all together. The best part of this work is that this isn’t something done for the sake of fulfilling credits. A lot of thought, research, and planning have been put into these works, because it will be used this coming fall quarter!

Some of the limitations in the potential of digital media for enacting our mission is the lack of digital resources. The students that I am working with are the ones often affected by the digital divide; they are mostly first-generational students coming from low-income household. Booking for classrooms with computers are often not available because they are booked for “technology” classes or an interactive software is part of the in person coursework. This means that I need to get creative if I want to implement some of what I have suggested through my service learning blogs. Thus, I try to ensure that digital platforms are at least accessible via cell phone, or that I will allow time for students to use our private computer lab. I was also mindful of assignment completion; so, that students get the chance to get to the school or local library to use a computer and/or connect to the Internet. Additionally, I have also thought about working with another department to borrow their mini-ipads that are secured onto a cart. I figured that since these mini-ipads are only used for certain occasions/events, it will be easy for me to check out.

At the moment, I am blinded by further limitations. For now, I have plenty to work with; and I know that with continuous collaboration online, I know that will learn more creative ways to bring access and power of knowledge to all my students. I couldn’t be more excited to roll out this LMS, and one that I am quite content with, from the perspective of a teacher!

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.