I was asked a few weeks ago why I use TI Technology in my classroom. I have never felt articulate when it comes to extemporaneous speaking, but I agreed to talk with the reporter because my experience has been that it’s good for me to have to justify what I’m doing in the classroom. Why do I continue to use TI Technology in my classroom when other free technologies are available for teachers and students to use?
A Google search of “technology speeds up life” results in about 142 million results in less than half of a second. What I find in my classroom, however, is that using technology actually slows down the pace.
In the midst of my usual rush to cover all of the required standards, when we use TI-Nspire Technology to explore a difficult concept, the questions that students ask slow us down. The platform that we use encourages students to ask questions beginning with “why does …” and “what happens when …” It allows the students to find answers to those questions interactively so that I am not the only expert in the classroom.
In the midst of my usual rush to cover all of the required standards, when I use TI-Nspire Navigator to send students a Quick Poll to check for understanding, their responses sometimes let me know that we need to spend a little longer “attending to precision”. Seeing that their response doesn’t get marked correct up on the board in front of the class is not the same thing as me writing or saying the correct answer and having students individually check their work. And so we look at their Quick Poll responses together, letting the students determine whether or not the answers are correct or incorrect, letting the students determine what error was made to produce an incorrect answer, “critiquing the reasoning of others”, learning from both correct and incorrect responses.
Most importantly, using TI-Nspire Navigator gives every student a voice to make their thinking about mathematics visible – not just the loudest student, and even the quietest student … from the one who answers quickly to the one who needs more time. I no longer have to rely on their polite nods to determine whether my students are “getting it”. Their responses to Quick Polls let me know whether they are getting it, and give me the data I need to determine what instructional adjustment to make next in the lesson. Using technology eases the hurry syndrome, forcing me to pay attention to the questions students have and allowing me to assess their progress continuously.
Our 9th graders are 1:1 MacBook Airs for the first time this year. We use TI-Nspire Navigator for Networked Computers with them, and we continue to use TI-Nspire Navigator for handhelds with our other students.
Quick Polls give me information on where students currently are in their thinking.
The answers can be multiple choice:
If your learning goal for a lesson is for students to determine the center and radius of a circle by completing the square, what would you do next after the results above?
We had our students convince each other of their answer and sent the poll again:
An ordered pair:
Or an expression, providing students the opportunity to attend to precision:
All of the data that I collect from my students during class is stored in a Portfolio, which is helpful for seeing who needs extra support and/or enrichment.
Class Capture gives me information on where students currently are in their work, allowing me to monitor, select, and sequence for whole class discussion.
Making a student the Live Presenter displays the student’s device in real-time to the whole class. (With TI-Nspire Navigator for Networked Computers, what the student displays isn’t limited to TI-Nspire … a student can display and interact with any application on the computer.)
Interactive TI-Nspire documents allow us to explore mathematics using graphs, geometry, data and statistics, data collection probes, calculations, and interactive notes.
With TI-Nspire Navigator for Networked Computers, I can send (and collect) all types of documents, not only TNS documents.
All in one piece of software.
In addition, the T3 community has taught me and continues to teach me more than I ever thought I could learn about mathematics and pedagogy and the appropriate use of technology for improving student understanding of mathematics. Gail Burrill and Tom Dick always make us think about whether we are “using technology as a tool for calculating or as a tool for deepening student understanding of mathematical concepts”. I am (admittedly) a proud member of that community.
I have no agenda to force a certain technology on anyone. Even so, it has taken me a while to find my voice as part of the #MTBoS. Many speak against TI so loudly that I sometimes wonder whether others can see that what I share through my blog and tweets is a journey of learning, teaching, and questioning that is platform-agnostic. I use what I have access to use and what makes my students’ thinking visible. I hope that others are doing the same.
And so the journey continues … full of hope that our collaboration and conversation can transcend platform and focus on deepening student understanding of mathematics.