Brenda Linebaugh, York, PA
There is a growing push to have students do more and more online. While this is not a bad thing, it can make students pay more attention to their devices than to their study team members.
Here are a few things to consider to balance the inquiry and student centered approach of CPM with a 1:1 technology environment.
Limit the number of devices being used at one time. Having elbow partners share a device promotes discussion and collaboration. Having students work together on an eTool encourages them to think out loud as they work.
Consider using the textbooks for classwork. Using the eBooks for classwork will have students putting their noses in their devices. Either limit the number of devices, have the students read out loud, or simply have them use textbooks during class time with their teams.
Take advantage of online discussions and polls. Many learning management systems have discussion posts/forums that can be used for open-ended questions. I like to use these at the beginning of class to get the students thinking about the lesson. Some systems have settings so students have to post their thoughts before they can see the posts of others. You can also have students make graphs, screenshot them, and then post those.
Utilize collaborative apps. Google docs are awesome for having students work together. I also like Baiboard, an app that easily allows students to insert pictures and write by hand. It also has a grid background, which makes it wonderful for math. I have used Baiboard for chapter closure summaries and for making “e-posters” about types of functions.
Encourage students to use resources. The CPM homework website, eBooks, and online resources are right at students fingertips. I also encourage students to Google a topic if they struggle or need some extra help. Allow students to choose their mode of help (text, video, practice problems) to promote self-awareness and life long learning.
Use the technology to enhance the learning. Using apps like Desmos allow you to take the learning and questioning to a higher level. The math must be the focus. Be careful not to use technology just for the sake of using technology.
Allow students to drive the technology and help each other. On several occasions, I had a specific app or website in mind and a student asked a question or made a suggestion that opened us up to newer and better possibilities. Also, allow students to choose the apps they are comfortable with when they take notes or make presentations. They will appreciate being able to work in a way that works for them.
Allow students to work offline. In my district, we are supposed to use as little paper as possible. I tried my best at that, but I noticed that some students simply prefer paper and pencil with math. Many graphing activities are simply better to do on paper. I regularly keep hard copies of anything we do for those students who want them. I make half the copies I would normally make, but I never make extras. Students who lose papers must use the electronic versions.
Be clear about your expectations. There is a huge management piece that goes along with technology. You must be clear with your students what they can and cannot use in your classroom. I do not allow students to use cell phones at all. I do not allow them to listen to music or use ear buds while they are in a team. They must be attentive to each other and to the learning. In addition, I do not allow them to use a calculator app to do anything a scientific calculator can do. They have to use the school calculators on assessments, so that is what we use during class. They may decide to use the apps at home, and that is acceptable, but not during class. Students are too good at switching between apps and games!
A 1:1 environment opens a lot of new possibilities and resources to students. It also opens a lot of distractions. It is our job as teachers to help students make good choices about when and why to use technology. It is also imperative that we convey the value of face-to-face interactions and collaboration. No device can replace a teacher or a teammate.