A Shopping List for Mathematics in the Digital Age
By Stacey Pusey
As mathematics pedagogy moves further toward thinking about the process of getting the answer rather than just the answer itself, developing problem-solving skills is key to student success. With the continued move to distance learning and digital resources, educators need to make sure any tools support this new mindset. During an edWeb edLeader Panel sponsored by ORIGO Education, the presenters offered their key criteria for digital mathematics tools and how they should support teachers and students.
- Bank of rich and culturally relevant tasks: Any mathematics content management system should give teachers access to or allow them to create and import problems that represent the diverse needs of their classroom. To support the problem-solving mindset, the tasks would present multiple paths to the solution to allow for student creativity. In addition, all tasks should be viewed through an equity lens so they have an inclusive context.
- Structure for teaching through problem solving: Rather than just telling students to solve the problem, an effective tool will help students break down the task into pieces and provide prompts to help the students as they master both math and problem-solving skills.
- Tools to represent every student’s thinking and voice: Just as the tasks have multiple paths to the solution, students should have access to multiple digital tools to help them find those paths. Whiteboards, voice recorders—anything that lets students work through the task in their own way and supports their learning style is essential.
- System to organize student work for sharing: Teachers need easy access to student work, not only for their own critiques but so they can share it with the class.
- Features to support equitable student discourse: An important part of developing problem-solving skills is listening to and learning from others. User-friendly peer-review tools allow students to engage in meaningful conversations with their classmates.
- Rubrics to assess qualitative learning: While all work might not be graded, both students and teachers need to be working toward the same goals. Students should be able to clearly find and refer to rubrics as they review teacher feedback.
- Embedded professional learning and collaboration: It’s not enough for the application to tell teachers how it works; the more effective ones explain how to integrate the application into the classroom and offer insights into how the tasks meet academic goals.
Mathematics is most often associated with problem-solving, but students who develop strong problem-solving skills can use them in other subjects and in life beyond school. It’s a mindset—a way of approaching the world—and any tools used in the classroom should support growing these essential skills.
This edWeb broadcast was sponsored by ORIGO Education.
About the Presenters
Sheela Sethuraman has more than 20 years of experience in building and implementing educational technology solutions in K-12 classrooms. As Founder and CEO, Sheela has been instrumental in securing $4+M from National Science Foundation, NewSchools Venture Fund, MassVentures and angel investors. Prior to CueThink, Sheela was Project Director at Pearson Education, focusing on technologically innovative assessment items based on Common Core State Standards. Before that, Sheela was Director of Technology at CAST, where she spearheaded numerous technical products including CAST eReader and Thinking Reader. She has been a member of various consortiums such as Web Access Initiative (WAI), National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) and Open eBook Forum. Sheela has also been a podcaster for the Stanford Business School’s Center for Social Innovation.
Allison DePiro is a Senior Implementation Specialist for CueThink. Mrs. DePiro is a 2018 VA state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. She currently serves as a Lead Developer for the VDOE Rich Math Task Committee and a board member for the Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics. As a former Title 1 elementary math specialist and teacher, Allison worked to create and implement high quality experiences that promote curiosity and joy in learning mathematics.
Sara Delano Moore, Ph.D. serves as Director of Professional Learning and Chair of the Mathematics Advisory Board at ORIGO Education. A fourth-generation educator, Sara’s work emphasizes the power of deep understanding and multiple representations for learning mathematics. Her interests include building mathematical comprehension and operation sense, incorporating high-quality literature into mathematics instruction, and connecting mathematics with engineering design and computational thinking. Sara has served as a classroom teacher of mathematics and science, a mathematics teacher educator at the University of Kentucky, Director of the Kentucky Center for Middle School Academic Achievement, and Director of Mathematics & Science at ETA hand2mind. She has authored numerous articles in professional journals and is a co-author of the Mathematize It! series of books. She is also a member of the Visible Learning for Mathematics writing team, including two volumes of the Teaching Mathematics in the Visible Learning Classroom series.
Join the Community
Mathematics for Young Learners is a free professional learning community on edWeb.net that provides a platform, advice and support in helping educators learn methods, ideas, and strategies to support mathematics development with young learners.
ORIGO Education is dedicated to making learning meaningful, enjoyable and accessible for all students with Pre-K to Grade 6 print and digital instructional materials, as well as professional learning for mathematics.
Stacey Pusey is an education communications consultant and writer. She assists education organizations with content strategy and teaches writing at the college level. Stacey has worked in the preK-12 education world for 20 years, spending time on school management and working for education associations including the AAP PreK-12 Learning Group. Stacey is working with edWeb.net as a marketing communications advisor and writer.