Teaching in an App Wonderland
There is clearly a big need for improvement in the current status of mathematics learning in all grades below high school. A major issue is dealing with students’ attention and excitement for working on math problems. Silence and a lack of enthusiasm have become the result, thus narrowing the opportunities for many occupations and careers in science and technology.
Many programs aim to increase the number of students staying in advance Math classes, like STEM (curriculum designed to build strengths for Science, technology, engineering and mathematics), within the App market and other technologies are playing the same game.
Lost in the great multitude of options are many options. Between free apps, paid apps, iphone only, android only, some cover one aspect of the curriculum and others the rest. The challenge of all this only becomes greater when the teacher must use their own free time to pick the right fit for their classroom.
Once the educator has chosen an app they will notice most programs address mechanical processes, ignoring the learner in experiencing conceptual understanding.
The pressure for teachers to give a 21st century education is real. The trend is only growing. In my research I question if an app is teaching fractions, how can they explain that shooting at something as fast as you can has any connection to math?
Has anything changed in Math education? Do we believe more in behavioristic learning than to constructivist learning? Are students more motivated? Why do they come to school?
Most likely students come to school because they want to be together. Learning is a social activity and the role of the schools is to provide challenging and innovative learning experiences for them. Of course today’s student wants to use modern technologies, which are an excellent help for practicing routine tasks.
Paths to Math is a web-based learning environment that can be used any time anywhere and with any device. It is based on modern learning theory using modern technology. It is designed to support teacher-student and student-to- student interactions by providing material and suggestion to implement pair share, group work, projects, modeling, hands-on learning, research and independent work. These are complemented by videos and interactive tasks placed where they are needed to support the learner when needed. Teachers have more time to mentor and support individual students, showing them real life situations that math can be meaningful for the students and help them to perceive the complex world.