Sunday, April 17, 2011

How can I use technology to make my thinking visible?

Last week I attended the NCTM 2011 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Indianapolis. Whenever I attend conferences of this size I always like to choose some theme in order to select sessions that work together. This year, I decided to focus on ways to use technology to make thinking visible. The idea of using think alouds to model mathematical practices is a major goal of my Teaching and Learning Middle Grades Mathematics (MTH 329) course but it has been hard to put into practice because of our lack of experience. The NCTM Conference provided me with more experiences to share with my teachers in training.

The first session that I attended was Using Technology to Transform Students' Problem-Solving Experiences and Perspectives. The presentation was true to the title with many good examples used by the presenters in their classrooms. (I will try to post about these in more detail later.) What I found most interesting was the idea of using the green screen feature in Photo Booth to embed learners into their problem-solving efforts.

I decided to try this for myself, and the result is provided below. Unfortunately, for some reason, my work in the background kept fading in and out. This was especially bad whenever I moved my arms to gesture at particular points. That is why I used my eyes and head to focus the viewer's attention in the video:

In the second session, Using Screen-Capture Movies to Assess Quadrilateral Constructions in Sketchpad, presenters showed how they used Geometer's Sketchpad and Jing to share learners' efforts to explore quadrilateral properties. This session was especially appropriate since I assigned my MTH 329 class a Shape Maker Lab before I left for the conference. The final unit of the course is on teaching geometry and now I had another way to make my thinking visible in this content area.

The Jing software only allows for five minutes of video so it took several tries to get my timing down. I like that this feature forces the person doing the think aloud to consolidate his or her thinking to a reasonable length, but it does require some planning and practice. Using Sketchpad's redo command helped to make the initial construction go more quickly. I did the construction and then undid it without Jing running. And then I hit "redo" multiple times while Jing was recording until the initial construction was complete. Only the dynamic exploration at the end was completely "live" during the video:

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Given that these think alouds using technology are my first attempts, I am happy with the results. However, I know that with more experience and support they can be improved. In fact, that is what we will be considering in MTH 329 tomorrow - glows and grows for these reasoning recounts. As always, your comments are welcome as well.

1 comment:

  1. Although incorporating technology into the curriculum and/or classroom might be considered interactive, interactive doesn’t always equate to learning. If introduced and utilized correctly, technology in the classroom can support educational efforts to improve the below average attainment rates in college algebra as long as instructors incorporate it in the classroom/curriculum and use it as a teaching tool that supports the learning environment. As you stated, “The idea of using think alouds to model mathematical practices…” is a major goal for you. How easy has it been to incorporate into the daily lesson plan and how successful has the program been in improving learning and impacting attainment levels of math?