The mathematics classroom has gone far beyond the image of a teacher, a chalkboard and a bunch of bored students. Today's mathematics classroom engages students through learning challenges and through the use of many different kinds of technology. Students use technology such as computers and calculators independently, in small groups, and as a class with the teacher leading them. Teachers use technology to plan lessons, teach lessons and keep track of student progress.
Computers can be used for many things in the mathematics classroom. They can be used to show virtual models of mathematics like at the Mathematics Virtual Library, to create graphs more easily by using Excel, and to practice math skills on websites like A+ Math and Mathquarium (see Resources). Teachers can also use Excel or a gradebook program to keep track of student scores and student skills.
Smartboards are the bridge between the computer and the old-fashioned chalkboard or whiteboard. Teachers can use digital pens to write on the boards and then save the writing on their computers, so that no matter what lesson you teach, if you use the board, you have a record of it. The Smartboard is also connected to the classroom computer so that all programs on the computer are available on the board. This way you can teach students how to use software and websites easily, with all students being able to see the board.
Once students have mastered basic math concepts, using calculators help prepare them for the real world. When you have to figure out your property tax percentage, for example, you don't sit around doing several pages of long division; you use a calculator. Students need to know how to use calculators effectively as well.
For mathematics classrooms that don't have access to Smartboard technology, overhead projectors are very useful. This piece of technology allows teachers and students to write normally and then to have the image projected onto a screen so that all students may see it easily. Teachers can re-use overhead transparencies (clear papers) or can save the ones from important lessons.
Televisions and DVD Players
While passively watching DVDs isn't the best thing for kids to be doing at school, sometimes emergency lesson plans or behavior rewards allow for it. So even in the mathematics classroom, televisions and DVD players can be used to watch mathematically-based shows like Cyberchase.