Monday, June 21, 2010

21st Century Math? Day One

Well, y'all wanted to hear about my class.  I had thought about tweeting about it later, but there are so many questions that ir raised with me that I figured I was better off blogging.  Please feel free to either comment and/or tweet me (@Mrs_LHenry).  I would really like to have discussion on some of these points.

I am not totally sure what I was expecting to get out of this class.  I guess I expected to learn some new software/websites/programs to help teach math better.  Here's how my day went:
The first two hours were spent between the housekeeping stuff, all of introducing ourselves, an update on the Core Curriculum, and being told that we should have a web presence and having PowPak and Moodle introduced to us.  We had also spent time with Pow Pak and Moodle in my 21st Century Tools class last week.  Then a second year teacher presented for about an hour and a half about how he uses the SMARTBoard - really the SMART Notebook software - in his instruction.  This was one of the two worthwhile things to me from today since I will have one in the fall and it was the first time I had seen anyone really using the software.  More about his presentation in a moment.

After lunch, we went to the computer lab.  I had high hopes after being lectured to all morning.  We registered for the Moodle for this class and the instructor proceeded to lead us through the websites on the Moodle page.  We spent about 45 minutes on virtual manipulative websites. I was thoroughly bored.  Most of the manipulative stuff was geared towards middle school and although there was stuff marked for high school, I guess I really didn't see the value of that.  Then we worked through a tutorial of GeoGebra that the instructor had printed out for us.  I had worked briefly with GeoGebra in another class about 2 years ago, so I was glad to have something to work through.  There was a cool activity on showing the slope of a tangent line to a function and calculating the derivative that I will use with my Calculus class this year.  (Second worthwhile thing today)  Then the instructor proceeded to lead us through the OGT Success website and somewhere in there she also took us to the ORC website - which have been at just about every county training I have attended for the last 4 or 5 years.  Another waste of time. 

Tomorrow we are supposed to hear from 2 year teacher and how he does OGT (Ohio Graduation Test - our 10th grade test students have to pass to graduate) practice in his classroom, a representative from the company that makes the SMARTBoard is supposed to talk to us, and we're in the computer lab in the afternoon again and we're supposed to talk about using videos (You Tube, Teacher Tube, etc.) and who knows what else.

I am sorely disappointed with the course so far.  Again, I am not totally sure what I was expected from "Teaching Math in the 21st Century," but I can say that I expected to learn about things that I have not really done before.  I guess in my mind, "21st Century" means that we are using technology to help enhance our instruction and I expected to be doing more with the 4 C's (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation) they keep referring to.  I am having a hard time finding "virtual manipulatives" to be something new.  We've all used manipulatives in the past and although it's cool to be able to see them on the Internet and use them on the SMART Board, I just can't get excited about it.

Even as I reflected on 2nd year teacher's presentation about how he uses the SMARTBoard in his class, I am really struggling.  Pretty much everything he showed us was basically putting up the same old notes that many math teachers do, but it's on the SMARTBoard and sounds or videos or different effects were added to make the presentation different.  That's 21st Century?  It seems like to me you're taking 20th Century Math and putting it on the computer.  How is that different than what I do now?  How is that going to better engage my students and get them to take more ownership in their learning?  How is that going to make be a better teacher?  I just don't get it.  I'm not seeing anything radically different.  Am I missing something?  Please enlighten me if I am.  What is Teaching Mathematics in the 21st Century to you?

Please comment or start a discussion on Twitter.  I really am struggling with this today.  Thanks in advance.


Terry Kaminski said...

Sorry to hear your 21st century MAth PD was not very useful. I agree with you. If the presenters think what they showed you is 21st Century math they are "out to lunch". At least they could have taken some outcomes from your curriculum and showed how you could use technology to enhance the learning and understanding of these by using technology.

Maybe tomorrow will deliver at least one gold nugget.

Thanks for sharing!!!

Craig said...

I have shared your frustration with PD in technology in math. I attended 3 sessions at my state's math conference. I felt that all three were useless to me - except for about 5 minutes of one session.

I consider myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to technology, but I like to go to these sessions to see how other math teachers integrate these tools into their classroom. I have found that sitting through an hour to an hour and a half session for minimal useful information just isn't worth it for me anymore. I could get better ideas just by asking others on Twitter for their ideas. I think you're finding that out too.

Anonymous said...

I am interested in the question of the Interactive White Board (SMARTboard) too. I have seen how lower school teachers can use it to truly be interactive. But I'm waiting for someone to show me a video of a high school math lesson where the IWB is more than just a glorified projector.

Don't get me wrong, I love my SMARTboard. I use it EVERYDAY in EVERY CLASS. But just as a projector/whiteboard. I don't yet "see" the interactivity part. I think it can be used for interactivity. I just need to watch a few demo videos of teachers actually using it in the classroom effectively for ideas/inspiration.


Lisa said...

I am SO with you there Sam! And if I come across any of those videos, you'll be the first to know!