Digital Promise: Math for Every Student

Tip of the hat to Scholastic’s Math Hub for posting this piece on the state of technology in math education.  Though many math educators report still relying on a basal textbook, many more are employing a variety of digital resources to help reach struggling math students:

On average, math teachers reported spending more than one full class period per week using digital tools or content, and many spent significantly more time utilizing technology. Specifically, among teachers who report using digital content or tools during more then 26% of class time (high digital use), the highest percentages are remedial math teachers and grades 6-8 math teachers. The most commonly used digital tool is interactive whiteboards. Teachers considered interactive whiteboards to be the most important supplemental material in addition to textbooks. This demand for whiteboards is a change from 2008 when interactive whiteboards were not even part of the survey. Math teachers and educators value the “faster reporting” and “detailed student/class information” generated by computer-based programs, features that traditional textbooks and workbooks cannot provide.

What many math educators have discovered is that moving from whole-class instruction to differentiating for struggling students requires going beyond the textbook to solutions that harness technology to adapt and respond to a student’s learning trajectory.  Technology of that sort can take multiple forms, but some important features include the ability to individualize for a student’s needs, provide supplemental resources, and multiple explanations for math skills and concepts.  As many educators now understand, one size does not fit all when it comes to math instruction; and ensuring that students graduate ready for the mathematical demands of the post-secondary world entails matching student math ability to the level of the lesson. 

At MetaMetrics, we’ve attempted to harness technology to supplement and strengthen student math ability through Math at Home.  Math at Home serves as a portal for matching students to targeted math resources across a variety of mediums.  Because each student has a different preferred learning modality, Math at Home offers online resources, video tutorials, skill practice sites, literature guides, games, and hand’s-on activities – a wide variety of resources to keep students engaged in math activity.  But Math at Home is more than a mere portal.  There are plenty of activity portals widely available.  What distinguishes Math at Home from other student portals is the Quantile Framework.  Math at Home uses the student’s Quantile measure to establish the student’s math level.  The list of available resources differs for each student and is based on their Quantile measure, or math level.  Additionally, Math at Home utilizes a large database of textbooks to match students with resources of their choice based on their current textbook lesson, but at their own math level.  If you haven’t already tried it, be sure to take a look.

Using Social Media in Math Education

Tip of the hat goes to Scholastic’s Math Hub for pointing to Sokikom – a new math website that manages to employ social media to keep students engaged in math activities year round.  Math websites are nothing new, but Sokikom has introduced a unique element by creating a massive multi-player social learning game directed toward elementary school students.  Here’s Math Hub’s own description of the site:

The research-based program is based on Social Learning Theory, the idea that people learn by observing others’ behavior and using these observations to model their own behavior. Sokikom has created a safe, fun environment where students can join teams, compete with each other, and develop their math skills.

The game is aligned with the Common Core State Standards and NCTM Focal Points and follows the guided discovery learning model, which allows students to explore different solutions to each problem. The program also features Challenges, individual learning activities in a self-paced environment. In addition to games, there are also animated lessons with adaptive instruction for students who need additional help.

Sites that utilize social media are proliferating at a rapid pace and we are just now beginning to see the educational potential of such exciting applications.  It’s good to see that so many are interested in extending instructional time beyond the classroom.

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.