Thursday, February 19, 2015

Refreshing Our Statistics Knowledge

Last week in Math 371 we took some time to cover basic concepts regarding statistics. Dr. Vestal shed some light on a disturbing issue regarding some teachers in our area. She mentioned the week previous that teachers struggle to retain main statistics concepts, which leads to struggling to teach stats in a high school. It is easy to see how future teachers such as myself could forget such material. We are only required to take two stats classes as a math Ed major, both of which are usually taken as a freshman and sophomore. For that reason, she assigned our class to take some concepts from the “For Dummies” series, which involved our TI-nspire, to teach to the class in teams of two. We are still learning to effectively use the nspires but are becoming easier and easier to use as we use them more. It has been a couple years since I have had to work with any statistics based concepts so it was a good refresher for when I have to take the second level of Stats. I worked with Jessica and we were tasked to create a dot plot on our calculators and then convert it to a histogram. As this was only a brief presentation of the more simple concepts, I cannot imagine that this is the last we see of stats in this class.

I am going to take a step away from traditional learning to an idea that could potentially change the way we learn in the future. One of our assignments was to read out of our ebook, Educational Technology for Teachers. In the reading, it discussed different forms of technology to use as methods to assist teaching. One of them was augmented reality. If you do not know what this is, augmented reality or virtual reality is a way to visualize a real world scenario using goggles. I have been intrigued with this idea since I hear about oculus rift, one of the first, truly revolutionary ways to see into a different world. I was excited to see this in the reading because it has enormous potential to help teachers teach, and excite students to learn. As it may not have potential applications for mathematical use, who knows what the future could hold. It could have the potential for you to visualize a xyz-plane in front of you, which could help students who struggle in Calculus III. I am personally still a firm believer in not incorporation to much technology into a math classroom, but I am excited to see what the future has in store for us.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Technology: A New Outlook

This week in class, as with many other weeks this semester (and the previous ones too) our class discussion has turned into a conversation and even somewhat of a debate about the benefits and conflicts of technology in education.  The great thing about these debates is that everyone contributes and we all have varying opinions. 
One specific struggle that continually comes up and we face more and more each day, as math educators, is the challenging question:
“When should and should I not use technology?”
If anyone is looking for the answer, our class is not the place to find it.  However, we have learned new ways to consider the use of technology.  Through research, class discussions, evaluations of other teachers, and even self-reflection, we have learned which questions to ask ourselves before choosing to use technology.  For some people these questions come easier than for others, as do the answers.  Yet, for some of us, knowing the right questions to ask and the most effective ways to evaluate technology still doesn't make the decision easy enough!
We grew up in a time that was only beginning to embrace technology – much of which didn't reach our middle or high schools.  The people who taught us used little or no technology when giving us lessons.  Yet, soon enough we all will be earning a college degree.  So, we learned just fine without technology – shouldn't students be able to do that now?
On one hand, we have a negative outlook on technology from bad experiences both in secondary schools and college.  Many of us have had teachers that ineffectively use Web Assign, PowerPoint, and online grading/lessons.  Many of us have even misused technology as students – graphing calculators, Wolfram Alpha,, and many others.  We fear that our students will misuse these things in the same way or even worse – that we will ineffectively use technology in our classrooms.  These concerns drive much of our dislike for technology – and maybe rightfully so, but what our class is realizing is that technology is a necessity in the world today, and it’s not going anywhere.
We are learning to embrace technology and that instead of asking, “Why do I have to use technology today?” we should ask, “How can technology enhance learning today?”  We have come to realize that technology not only helps students to dive deeper into the content, but can help students think abstractly and visually, making students stronger thinkers and problem solvers, and making us better teachers.
Although we all can think of many reasons not to use technology and most of my class will still side against it, we are beginning to open our eyes and see the possibilities of our classroom of the future – technology and all.