by Kate Fanelli
While the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Content inform teachers on the “what” and “when” for teaching, the Common Core State Mathematical Practice Standards (MPS) guide the “how.” MPS #3 states that mathematically proficient students “construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.” Much of the explanation of this standard speaks to students communicating about mathematics, building their own arguments and critiquing the arguments of others.
Technology can support ‘anytime, anywhere’ communication, and can enhance students’ ability to demonstrate mathematical thinking. Students can model with mathematics (MPS #4), and, often use embedded tools (MPS #5) such as digital mathematical notation, virtual manipulatives, and sketches, and then share their work with peers for review or with teachers for grading and feedback.
Many apps allow students to engage in meaningful mathematical discourse while engaging in the MPS, constructing and organizing ideas, and demonstrating their understanding. The following apps are a starting point for teachers looking for ways to meaningfully integrate technology into the teaching and learning process. There are also many virtual manipulative apps available for Apple and Android products. With the screenshot feature on the devices themselves, teachers and students can use a variety of apps and be able to share work.
Explain Everything for iPad and iPhone or Android ($2.99) – Explain Everything is a screencasting interactive whiteboard app that allows users to write, draw, annotate and narrate their thinking. Explain Everything will export work as a saved document to the device, to a variety of document storage sites including Dropbox, Evernote and Google Drive, or as a PDF, to name just a few available formats.
MathChat for iPad and iPhone (Free) – MathChat lets students work on math problems with friends. MathChat will render handwritten math problems into mathematical digital text, or students can take a picture of a math problem and upload it to the app. Then, students connect to friends already logged into their accounts and chat with each other about the problem (using an interface similar to text messaging) or even annotate the original problem as they explain their thinking.
Algebra Tiles for iPad ($0.99) – Students drag and drop Algebra Tiles into a blank workspace to show balancing equations, simplifying expressions, and operations on polynomials. They can annotate and diagram their work using 4 different colored pens. Symbolic representations are displayed at the bottom of the screen. When work is complete, students can take a screenshot and export and share their work from the Photos app.
Number Pieces for iPad (Free) – Similar to Algebra Tiles, students drag and drop Base Ten Blocks onto a workspace where they can be arranged and annotated. Users can share screenshots of work via the Photos app.
When selecting technology tools consider the content you are trying to teach and your students’ strengths and difficulties as learners. Consider how technology can eliminate barriers to learning, and even improve your students’ ability to learn, while engaging in the SMP.
Kate Fanelli is the math accessibility specialist for Michigan’s Integrated Mathematics Initiative (Mi)2, a state of Michigan initiative that promotes and supports high quality mathematics education for ALL students. Follow (Mi)2 on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mi2.page) or on Twitter (MI2_Math). Contact Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org.