Mr. Matthew BarcusBasic Mathematics

June 6, 2006

Intergrading 21st Century with Mathematics

The opportunity to study mathematics 150 years ago was unequal. All students studied arithmetic but Mathematics was only taught to a few “college bound elite” (decd.sa.gov.au). Women and minorities were excluded, which pushed children in one direction or another from the earliest of grades. The first school in Britain in 1837 was one classroom built to hold 300 boys, girls were taught separately. The teacher taught 30 of the brightest students and each of those students taught 10 other boys who stood in semi circles facing one board. They would be taught one problem and repeat it until it was memorized by all. They either wrote on slates or boxes filled with sand, writing with a stick. Now virtually everyone has the ability to master mathematics, female to every ethnicity.

There are many different ideas as to how technology should be used in the mathematical classroom. Some believe that students will not learn as much if they use technology such as computers and calculators, and there are others that believe technology can be beneficial if used properly. After reading many articles on technology in the classroom and using technology myself to research these different views, I believe that it is extremely beneficial. We all know that we must understand the applications and why we do them in order to really understand mathematics. We cannot just memorize the steps of the applications and plug it into a calculator; we must understand why the steps were done and what the results mean. After the students have proven they understand the material and applications, the teacher may allow the students to use the calculator. For example, if a group of students were asked to find the maximum of a line, they would not be expected to graph it by hand and try to guess where the point is, they would be encouraged to use their calculators to find the best estimation of the point. So in cases like this, technology can be used to further demonstrate the reasoning behind the problem. It may be that they want the student to work on the application or it may be that they want the student to be able to see what they are doing the application for.

Technology can be a great tool for teaching mathematics because we can show and manipulate visual form with such programs as the Geometer’s Sketchpad and many others. Programs like these help students visualize problems and may help teachers better explain mathematical concepts. This particular application has many uses such as finding the length and midpoint of a straight line, interval notation, creating animations to show how and why the sum of angles in a triangle always measure 180 degrees. Graphing calculators have the same functions as this program which some students prefer. Technology has the ability to make mathematical problems worthwhile for students. In ways that students can use the internet to find data on issues that are important to them. Students can use Microsoft Excel to put data into spreadsheets where they can use formulas to make anything they want to know appear for them, understanding the conclusion and how it