Monday, July 18, 2011

The Coming Year - Technology In My Classroom

In a little more than a month, I will begin my first year as a high school math teacher. Having a vague understanding of how challenging it is going to be, as well as knowing my tendency to take on too much, one of my goals before the year starts is to have a plan for the technology I am going to use, its purpose, and how I am going to incorporate it into my teaching.

In choosing which technologies I will use, I am using the following as my requirements:
  • Free to use as in cost. Truly free software is a bonus.
  • Cross-platform. Works with Windows, Mac, and Linux without a fight.
  • No downloads or installations required, other than a reasonably modern browser.
  • Limited number of registrations and sign ups.
  • Ease of use. I want to teach math, not technology.

That being said, here are the weapons I plan on brandishing:

Absolutely amazing mathematics software designed for teaching and learning mathematics. While it's not always the most intuitive software to use, its dynamic and interactive nature make it a powerful tool in the classroom. There are loads of tutorials and ready-to-use materials on the main website.

I absolutely agree with Conrad Wolfram that teaching a bit of programming is crucial in teaching mathematics in the twenty first century. Python is my programming language of choice for many reasons. Also, Google's Exploring Computational Thinking is a great resource (and they even posted one of my lessons from my student teaching!).

If you have never used Google Docs before, I highly recommend it. I often hear it described as Microsoft Office in the cloud, but it is much more than that. It puts collaboration and sharing at the center of the process. Students are able to work on the same document at the same time, chat online together, track who made changes and when, and so much more. And it keeps getting better.

For most of the summer, I simply assumed that I would be using Twitter, but the recent (beta) release of Google+ has been rethinking that. I love the idea of back-channeling, communication, and collaboration inside and outside of the classroom, as well as giving students a different way to contribute. Circles, hangouts, and sparks (Google+ features) are promising features. Here is an evolving presentation on some potential uses of Google+ in education (and a great example of Google Docs in action!).

The math and tech geek in me is excited. These tools have the potential to engage students with mathematics at a level far beyond my high school experience, and that was not all that long ago.

Oh, and please leave comments! I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions and learn about new resources.

Next post: How I plan on using technology for continual professional development and reflection.