Technology in the Mathematics Classroom

Our middle school has been one to one for the past two years and I love it.  I mostly have the students work on Google Documents (Drive).  The best things about Google Documents are that it is free, updates instantly, allows students to collaborate, and there is no software required.  I occasionally use Khan Academy problem sets for students to practice their basic skills.  I like it because students can easily find the next topic to work on once they are proficient in one topic.  I don’t love that I can’t chose the level of problems they work on, some of the topics aren’t covered, and some of the question sets are too broad (or advanced) for my students.  Plus, even though I have directed them where to go next on Khan academy, students often jump to things like one step addition and subtraction just to gain points.  I have been using lately too.  I really love all of the options that I can pick AND that I can create my own quizzes!  I have been using this for extra practice, and to see how my students are doing on their basic skills.  My big problem here is just finding the time to create more assessments.

Our 9th grade is piloting an iPad program this year.  I have an iPad, but I can’t say I love it.  Google Documents are almost impossible to use on an iPad.  I also can’t edit my wiki pages either.  I’ve heard there is a way around this, and I tried but didn’t find it.  Since GDocs and wiki’s are 90% of what I do for my classes, my iPad hasn’t been of much use to me this year.  It’s just a big old iPhone that isn’t even a phone!  So, I’m very excited to hear if there is something actually useful for that big old waste of money, and not just “cool” because it is an iPad.  If you don’t feel like writing a blog (or don’t write a blog), you can leave me a comment to tell me why you love iPad’s for your math classroom, OR even to help you out in your classroom if your students don’t have them.  But, we only have one iPad (mine) right now, so as much as I love Apple and my Mac, I’m just not on board with iPads for students right now.  The benefits would have to be very high to outweigh the costs, especially since all of our students have laptops.  So, what I am also wondering is, given the choice, would you rather your students have laptops or iPads?

13 thoughts on “Technology in the Mathematics Classroom

  1. Pingback: MS Sunday Funday – iPad Apps and Other Technology in the Mathematics Classroom | I Speak Math

  2. I love using Reflex Math for math facts drill. It is an excellent, researched-based program, and best of all, they are offering one year grants right now. My students love it, and the reports are excellent.

  3. Hi Julie, I tend to agree with you about iPads. I’m hesitant to use them because they don’t support the Java applets that I use for GeoGebra. I am, however, willing to give it a try. Last spring our PTO funded the purchase of tablet pens so I am anxious to load Educreations and have the students create math videos. Here’s an interesting video about the cons of iPads in education. The comments are a bit low brow, but the video itself does make one think.

  4. This past Friday I wrote a blog post about my favorite iPad apps for “My Favorite Friday”. Hope you don’t mind that I added it to the middle school Sunday/Fun day list. I wanted to make a comment about your post. We use Google at my school and I ran into the same issue as far as working on Google Drive on my iPad until I downloaded the Google Drive App. If you have not done this I am sure you will see this app will make things much easier for you to work with Google on your iPad. You will be able to acces- create- collaborate on Google documents with no problems. I will research the wiki issue- there has to be an app for that too?! I love my iPad but I agree that iPads might not be the best tool for the classroom. Expense is probably the biggest drawback in my mind. To be a truly effective tool for my use I needed to purchase a keyboard for my iPad…another extra expense- but maybe students who have grown up with texting would not have the same issues as I do with the iPad. It will be interesting to hear how your 9th grade students do with their iPads this year. I can see how if your school is already 1:1 you might not see the need. My school is not 1:1 yet- we are still looking in to what tool would be best- BYOD, iPads or laptops. I am just hoping we are not left behind while we are looking!

  5. What type of work do you have students collaborate on through Google Docs? Do you create accounts for each student for school or have them use their personal accounts?

  6. I prefer laptops for the classroom, but I don’t really get a choice. I’ll be attempting to use the old netbook cart tomorrow. The students will all get iPads…eventually. But nobody asked me, so that’s what I get.

  7. Yeah, out school had a grant to buy technology and I think that I’m the reason we got 60 laptops and 135 iPads instead of only iPads. Unfortunately the 60 laptops are going to the middle school while I teach at the HS… but I’m still excited about the iPads because it’s better than, well, nothing. (Which is what we have right now even though the iPads have been sitting in the IT department since mid summer…)
    But yeah, here’s a post I wrote after doing a little bit of research–looking here and there for ideas:
    I’m most excited about QR codes, but again, I can’t lesson plan until I know when the students will receive them!

  8. I just started reading your blog today, Mrs. R, and I am thrilled to find a community of teachers with a passion for math and technology. I love how you have been able to get so much out of your school’s one-to-one program using tools like ThatQuiz and Google Drive.

    In regards to your question, I think I would prefer a one-to-one program with laptops over iPads. Like you said, iPads are cool and sleek, but they lack a degree of functionality that you get with a laptop. My wife and I have an iPad at home, and we enjoy it for web browsing and entertainment, but I would prefer a computer for typing and word processing. Also, iPads do not support flash and java applets that can be needed in a classroom. Since your school is already one-to-one, I agree with you that the iPads may be a bit superfluous. I have seen one advantage that iPads have in that with the right software and hardware, teachers can use them to interact remotely with a smart board. One blog that I was reading ( even had students doing problems on an iPad, saving the video, and playing it for the class while explaining their work which was quite amazing, but this is of course an added expense. Perhaps with this feature, an iPad for each student would be worthwhile, but for now, I would still choose laptops.

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  10. To get a sense of how iPads could be used in a math classroom, check out my friend Kyle’s class. It’s a paperless math classroom that uses a combination of iPads (1 to 1 ratio with students) and GDocs. His journey and class websites can be found here . I am not totally sold on the iPads either but I think they have the potential to be a game changer. A perfect example of this is the app Dragon Box ( Quite possibly the best app for math in existence

    • Hey David:

      Thanks for the shout out!

      iPads can definitely be worth the cost if they are utilized effectively. Google Drive has an app now and I use it each day to record assessment data via a public spreadsheet. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!


  11. Our school is phasing in going one to one with iPads. This year, grades 5 and 6 have iPads. One thing that has stuck with me in our training a is to use creation apps not consumption apps. We love educreations. The students can solve a problem, record their explanations and email them to the teacher. It’s helping us reduce the amount of copies we need as well with drop box and apps like notability where students can solve things right on their iPad. It is reducing the amount of “I can’t find that paper” excuses. Of course their are technical issues we face and learning curves for teachers and students, but I do like them.

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