99 Red TrianglesJune 1, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Posted in Content Area Literacy | 3 Comments
(By Jessica D’Agostino)
How many triangles can you draw on a white board … fifteen, twenty, or even one hundred? Will this be enough to convince your students that every triangle on that board has an interior angle sum of 180 degrees? This would be great if every student thought, if one hundred triangles have an interior angle sum of 180 degrees, then all triangles will have an interior angle sum of 180 degrees. However, what about the student that raises their hand and says “what about the one hundred and one triangles; how do we know it will have an interior angle sum of 180 degrees?” In this scenario, the teacher has a huge problem! The teacher cannot fit one more triangle on the board, and showing a proof of Euclid’s interior angle theorem is just too complicated for a middle school student. It is here when technology becomes necessary. Through tools like Geogebra, a free mathematical program that allows the user to make an unlimited number of geometrical figures, students can create an infinite number of different triangles. This gives students the freedom to explore on their own the interior angle sum of a triangle; where they will find the interior sum of the infinite amount of triangles is 180 degrees.
Today’s students are growing up in a world where everything is done with technology. They are naturally equipped with the skills and understanding of new developments in technology, where most of today’s teachers are not. I believe this is where the controversy of using technology in the classroom lies. Many teachers do not understand or do not wish to understand the ever changing technology. However, this may be the key to reaching every student. Sir Ken Robinson, in a video by the RSA Animate group, tells us students today are living in the most stimulated time in history. Their attention is being pulled by computers, TVs, video games, and other technology, but we are punishing them for not being able to pay attention. The students are being punished for focusing on their technologies, rather than on the lectures being given by teacher. However, why would the student want to focus on lecture, when they respond so much better to technology? It is here where the struggle between students and teachers lies. In every aspect of each student’s life they have access to technology, except at school. By adding technology to our classrooms, we may be able to reach students on their own level just like they can be reached outside of the classroom. This then requires our teachers to be familiar with technology and the ways it can be affectively used in the classroom.
One area where technology may be useful is in content area literature. Since there is no way to guarantee every student reads at the same level, the textbook is not always an appropriate resource. Textbooks cater to one reading level, however, through technology teachers can use computers and the internet to find additional resources to cater to many different reading levels. Additionally, since textbook companies like Holt McDougal offer online support for their textbooks, students can now use their textbooks on their own time and receive help outside the classroom in the form of additional practice problems, additional lecture time, and practice quizzes. Without this technology, students are restricted to reading the textbooks and the limited number of practice problems at the end of each chapter.
It is apparent that technology can help students in many areas of our classroom, but does this mean our teachers will adapt to the ever-changing technological world and stay current with their students? Will teachers see technology as a greater distraction? Finally, will the gap between student focus on technology and student focus on lecture become even greater without teachers adapting to the current technological trends?