Not actually me, but I like to think this is how I look when I daydream. |

I like to spend most of my free time daydreaming about the
day when I finally have a teaching job.
The children are all angels that love to learn, assignments are graded
automatically, I never have to attend staff meetings, and my only interactions
with parents are to brag about how well their children are doing. Then I wake up and realize that I will never
find a real-life situation as nice as that so I start to mentally prepare
myself for the reality of teaching math to secondary students. One of the issues I will need to deal with is
keeping the students interested in what they should be learning. I need to either avoid or be able to answer
the age-old question:

“When are we ever going to use this?”

www.wolframalpha.com |

I plan on using a few
different technologies in my future classroom to keep students interested: a
digital camera, a document camera, scientific and/or graphing calculators, and
hopefully a Smartboard along with iPads loaded with math-oriented apps like
WolframAlpha.

The digital camera is for me to use in my lesson
planning. Having visual aids of some
kind is always helpful for keeping people interested—adults as well as
children. These can get stale after a
while if they are clip art, from the same teacher-supply book, or randomly
sourced Internet pictures. The visual
aids can start to seem hokey or cheesy and lose their attention-retaining
properties. With a digital camera, you
can get the same basic content to help with visual aids, but with people,
things, or places that the students know.
The pictures themselves, of course, would depend on the lesson. If we were talking about angles, for example,
I could use a picture of the doorway to the classroom to show a right angle, a
propped open book for an acute angle, and a top-down view of an open locker for
an obtuse angle. This would give
students some real things that they see every day, so they can start to relate
what they’re learning to life.

Document cameras have been extremely useful in the math
classes I have taken, so I would like to continue using them when I teach. I still like the chalkboard for a lot of
writing, but it is so nice to be able to show smaller things using the document
camera. I could use it to show congruent
and similar shapes without having to worry about my drawing on the board being
exactly right. I could even use it to
show the key to a pop-quiz if I wanted the students to self-evaluate their
papers.

At the middle school level, I would keep a classroom set of
scientific calculators. We would use
them to talk about square roots, order of operations, and all sorts of
things. At the high school level, it
would probably be graphing calculators, but depending on the class content, I
may require the students to have their own at home as well. In the beginning the calculators on their own
serve as a way to keep students interested.
They are new and fun to play on, so they get excited when you start
handing them out.

A Smartboard would be an excellent technology for a math
class. It can connect to the document
camera, and allow me to show graphs, modeling simulations, and anything from
the computer. I can use PowerPoint as a classroom
routine, having a welcome message up at the beginning of each class, and even
use it for review games before tests.

iPads would be nice for my classroom in theory, but if they
are not for only my math class, they could get a little unwieldy. Ideally, I would hand out the iPads when
there was a use for them in my lesson, just like the calculators. There are so many wonderful math
visualization, modeling, and equation-solving apps out there that they could be
an extremely valuable resource in keeping students engaged. If the students use their iPads for multiple
classes, whether they are rented or student-owned, there will inevitably be
distractions. These could be games the
student has downloaded on their personal iPad, or even just homework for another
class on a school-issued one. We must
tread carefully when giving the students power like this!

I do hope that I can find a job with a technology-rich
school. There is so much you can do to
supplement a lesson and keep the students interested when you have new,
exciting technology at your fingertips!