Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Isn't Technology Grand?

Hi Everyone in Math 371!

    Thank you so much for having me as a guest blogger this week.  My name is Rachel Harrington and I am writing to you from Corvallis, Oregon.  I am an associate professor of mathematics education at Western Oregon University.  On Fridays, I work from a coffee shop in my hometown and do virtual office hours through Google Chat.  Isn’t technology grand?  I have never actually met Dr. Vestal, but I talk to her regularly via Facebook.  She is a friend of a friend who did a virtual introduction.  Our friend in common knew we did similar work and thought we should “meet.”  Again, isn’t technology grand?
    I have read the past entries of your class blog and see that folks have used it to summarize their personal experiences with technology and also a chance to review how they explored technology tools in the previous week’s class.  So, continuing with that theme, I thought I would use this opportunity to share how I used technology in my professional work this week.

    On Monday, I had a Skype call with four other researchers from Ohio, Oregon, Michigan and Virginia.  We are in the final stages of a collaborative paper that synthesizes all of the research written on Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) over the past 10 years.  TPACK is the idea that there is a special type of knowledge that teachers hold that helps them to integrate technology into instruction.  Essentially, it is the idea that you can be a good math teacher, but never use technology OR you can be skilled at using technology, but have no idea how to teach math with it.  Having a solid TPACK means you know how to do both—you know how to teach math with technology.  Math 371 is helping you to develop your TPACK!

    On Wednesday, I taught my math pedagogy class.  In that class, everyone has an iPad and we do a lot of our work using them.  My students are currently investigating a common problem or misconception in mathematics and researching an app that claims to address that misconception.  They are going to write a critical review of the app based on their research.  There are so many apps out there for teaching and learning math and it can be really easy to waste your money $.99 at a time.  I’m glad you are getting a chance to do critical analysis in your Math 371 class.  This will pay off (intellectually and fiscally) down the road.

    After I finish up this blog, I will start work on an eBook that I am writing with my colleagues at the Center for Algebraic Thinking.  Three years ago, we took all of the research since 1970 that has been written on teaching and learning algebra and compiled it into the Encyclopedia of Algebraic Thinking.  Our next step is to convert it to an eBook.  If you find that you are going to teach a lesson on Negative Numbers, and you don’t know where to start, consider going to the Encyclopedia.  It has ideas on good problems to give, places where students struggle, and tips for teaching.  One more thing that you might like:  we have developed 20 iOS apps to address common problems in Algebra and they are ALL FREE!  (Well, one costs $.99, but trust me, it’s good!)  They are on our website and also on iTunes.  Just search for Center for Algebraic Thinking and you should find them. 
    Thank you again for giving me the chance to share how I have been using technology this past week.  I will keep following your blog because it is giving me good ideas to use in my own teaching!  Thanks for reading—I think I need to get back to my coffee and pie.  

Rachel Harrington, Western Oregon University