Thursday, April 28, 2016

Math 371: How the class prepared me for teaching and how it didn't

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Jessica DeNeui, and I'm a senior at SDSU. Today I'm guest-blogging about how Math 371 did and didn't help in the classroom. This semester I student taught at the Brookings High School. The school is one-to-one: every student has a two-in-one tablet computer. Access to technology was no problem (unless the internet crashed). I was pretty excited to see what we could accomplish with the computers.

 One resource that I frequently found myself going to was Desmos. I was really glad we'd played around with Desmos in Math 371 so that I was up to speed. One really cool aspect of Desmos I hadn't known about before is that teachers can create an activity that takes students step by step through a process and it records their answers. It was amazingly helpful to be able to look back at my students' answers after they left class and see what they understood and what they didn't.

Another way I felt Math 371 prepared me for teaching was just giving me activity resources. At the time, I don't think I always saw the value of the all the resources we discussed and activity portfolio we put together. Now that I'm in the classroom, I'm always looking for different ideas and places to pull material from. All those resources we'd put together are really coming in handy now, and I'm really glad I had this class to help me get those resources together.

While Math 371 was helpful, but I'm not sure it fully prepared me to decide when to use technology and when to not use technology. Desmos and other interactive software and technology are really helpful and definitely have a place in the classroom, but there are limits to what technology can do. I often see students get into a plug-and-chug kind of mode when it comes to technology - they don't really think about what they are doing. I've found that making students do things by hand forces them to think about what's going on. A fine balance comes with using technology. It's a great tool and can help students explore or apply a topic, but I've found that it has to be used with a specific purpose in mind or it won't have any impact at all.

Thanks for letting me be a guest blogger, and I hope the rest of the semester goes well for everyone!