Friday, June 3, 2016

Response to Questions about Tech Use at NCTM Conferences - A Collective Answer

Response to David Barnes' (Associate Executive Director for Research, Learning, and Development at NCTM) question about technology use at NCTM conferences.

David's question: "So the question for you and your crew is what makes a quality technology session? What does it need to do, include, address, etc?"
  • Tech sessions should focus on larger themes that transcend tech brands or even technology itself. A quality technology session will integrate the tools with the content, demonstrating how the power of visualization enables students to generalize properties and consequently understand concepts more quickly and effectively. Technology is a means, not an end.  It needs to be pedagogically sound.
  • As a participant, I want to know what the big pedagogical ideas before the presenter shows me how a particular tool can realize them.

  • Sessions should generate ideas that make math more interesting to my students and will help me become a better teacher. I will use any tool at my disposal to make the subject more palatable (and fun) for my students, pique their interest, and make the math come alive. 
  • Examples of how to interpret the output of technology to demonstrate understanding and computational fluency should be included. After all, the goal of teaching with technology is to help students learn what tool is appropriate to make mathematics meaningful no matter whether it is a calculator, computer, or pencil.

  • Learning the tools is also very important. The vendors can contribute during their exhibitor sessions and do demonstrations at their booth in the exhibit area. Participants should have the opportunity to USE the technology during the session.
  • An area in the exhibit hall should be devoted to helping teachers get hands-on experience with various effective software programs and apps. That’s something the Math Forum could do in their booth.
  • Encourage the use of social media that helps promote the communication standard both with students and teachers through the use of Twitter and blogging. Members of the MathTwitterBlogosphere could help with recruiting & supporting new members at their booth.
Thanks to Ray Klein, David Wees, Henri Picciotto, Tom Beatini and Dan Meyer for their comments.