Evolving Math past the Chalkboard

Today’s blog post focuses on Chapter 7 from Tony Bates’ textbook on Pedagogical Differences Between the Media.  My personal take on the topic will focus on how Math was taught to me as a student and how I can evolve my own Math teachings now and in the future.

Back in my Day…


Photo Credit: http://memeshappen.com/media/templates/math-chalkboard.jpg

When I was in high school (so long ago it seems), Math was taught the same way every time.  The teacher stood in front of a chalkboard, or a whiteboard (this counted as innovation in our time).  Here the teacher would do 4-5 examples and then assign further questions from the textbook.  This was a common teaching method and thankfully, it worked well for me.  My learning style matched up very well with this way of teaching and therefore I was successful.

Because I was taught math in this traditional method, I often tend to teach it this way myself.  I have not looked to evolve as much as I should.

As Bates states, this method of paper and textbooks gives a high suitability for independent analysis, however he also notes that it is far less useful for showing processes.  The textbook allows the student who already understands the content to push themselves further with more difficult and engaging questions.  But what about the students who still do not understand the content when the teacher’s lesson is finished?

A Vision for the Future…

I believe the biggest area for growth in my own math teaching is through the use of video.  As Bates states, a strength of videos is the ability to stop and start, allowing students to progress at their own speed.  While there is still definitely a need for traditional instruction, watching videos such as Khan Academy (example shown below), allows the students to hear the explanation from a different voice in perhaps a different method.

As a teacher, I do not care how the students come to acquire the knowledge, instead I just want them to be comfortable with the concepts and able to apply them on their own.

It is my pledge to begin to use more technology in my math classroom, in hopes of providing another medium for the students to acquire the necessary knowledge.

In the comments, I would love to hear from fellow math teachers, how do you integrate technology into your classes?





11 thoughts on “Evolving Math past the Chalkboard

  1. I am not a math person but I have used some technology to support my students in math. Most of my students struggle in math therefore engaging them is top priority. Some of the technology that I have used is iPads (math games and enhancing skills), Khan academy, and mathletics. I think for me the important piece is engaging the kids that struggle so that they can feel some success and then learn new skills. I agree that video is a great tool and it may allow students to see different explanations to help them grow in their learning.


  2. Kyle, I haven’t taught math in almost 3 years, but I appreciate your pledge to integrate Tech into a subject that is often associated with paper. Now for my extra long story… Years ago I used Khan Academy regularly as a way to flip & support Math w/o having to make my own videos (basically I was lazy & didn’t want to recreate the wheel!) One day I noticed a student who was a new Canadian who would often elect to stay in at recess (& not just because it was freezing outside) to work on Khan Math lessons. Finally I asked him what he liked about the videos and lessons (yes he loved learning, but he was a 13 year old kid). The reasons he shared surprised me a little. He said that he liked being able to review stuff that he felt he should know and that he never really learned, and didn’t want to ask. Later I realized that he had spent many years in refugee camps and probably had more than a few gaps in his learning. Truthfully it was that moment that I really started to see the benefits of personalized learning and the power of the right tools to empower kids. So…. that’s my long winded comment!
    And… Thanks for your thoughtful post, I enjoyed reading it!


  3. I also struggle with integrating technology in my math classrooms outside of writing notes on my SMART Board and occasionally watching a math-themed video. That is one of the major reasons I am making my course prototype on Calculus 30. I am going to try to make the math videos that they can use to reflect and review the process.


  4. Kyle, your post is inspirational as I would also like to incorporate the use of technology in my math class. I look forward to hearing your success stories. Khan Academy looks like an awesome resource and I like the idea of using the videos as an example when I step out of my comfort zone to create my own. Good luck and keep up the great work.


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  5. I agree Kyle! I find a huge difference in the engagement of my students when they use technology, learn through math games as well as, paper and pencil work. I was like you, and was able to learn the traditional way. As we know, it doesn’t work for everyone. I feel and hope that more of my students strengthen their understanding of new math concepts when given the opportunity to practice and develop their skills in a variety of ways.


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