Educational Need: My Algebra students have difficulty with mathematics reasoning.  When learning an algebra skill, students can solve problems in basic form and follow the structure of an example on daily assignments, but they struggle with application of those mathematical operations outside of isolation.  Specifically, students have difficulty applying mathematical skills to word problems, real-world situations, or struggle with multi-step applications of the skills.

Rationale: Mathematics is the oldest and most universal part of our culture that we share with all the world.  It has its roots in the most ancient of times and the most distant of lands and has been used to solve the problems of civilization for centuries.  Many high school students in my math classes asked the long-standing question, “When will I ever use this?”  But the truth is we use math everyday. Students use math to solve the most simple or most complex of problems that they can encounter in their school or professional careers.  But simply having the ability to “do” math does not help the students calculate how many yards of mulch to order, or calculate how to plan for retirement.  It is mathematical reasoning that allows students to take the concepts and skills of “doing” math and apply them into their lives everyday.

Although it seems so obvious to math elites, math learners struggle with the application of mathematical skills outside of the “plug-and-chug” homework assignments, I’ve even found that some students can do the problem and then not be able to explain what it is they actually did or why.  Through this, I hope to find a solution that will help students not only strengthen their skills, but be able to apply those skills to word problems, real-world situations, or multi-step applications of the skills they already know.  By improving math reasoning, it will improve student comprehension and confidence in the their mathematical abilities, but also provide students with the foundation for continued problem-solving beyond school and into their futures.

Addressing the Need with Technology: I plan to use several technology interventions with my Algebra Support class to strengthen their understanding of mathematical reasoning problems.

I.)              Our school has several new sets of TI-Nspire calculators and I will implement several activities that are relevant to the current curriculum that the students are studying utilizing the TI-Nspire calculators.  The activities will have in-depth questioning and problem-solving issues in which the students will have to take their knowledge of algebraic skills and apply them to deepen the meaning and understanding of the concept.

II.)            Secondly, I will have the students use online activities/labs that will additionally build upon their knowledge of algebraic skills in order to gain a greater depth of understanding of real-world application of these skills.

Research and Resources: This website, provided by Texas Instruments to accompany the TI-Nspire calculators, will be my main source when implementing the Nspires.  The lessons and activities on this site are created by educators and many of their objectives reach beyond understanding mathematical skills and into application.

University of Washington Study conducted by Timothy O’Mahoney This study used TI-Nspire handhelds with students in which they demonstrated deeper understanding of the concepts explored.  I’m very interested in this research as a basis for implementation in my own classroom. This website has been the beginning of my search for web-based tools and activities that utilize the content standards and concepts that my students are learning about.

Implementation Plan:  During this course, I plan on introducing the students to the TI-Nspired calculators and conducting at least two lessons with them.  There may be the need for a day on a “get-to-know-the-calculator” activity since the TI-Nspires are unlike any of the other calculators that the students have used before.   I also plan on utilizing our school computer labs for the web-based activities that the students will be doing.  I am hoping to get at least two days in the lab, however, this will take some advanced planning since computer labs times are difficult to schedule unless they are planned well in advance.

Once I have completed this project, I am hoping to incorporate these technologies more often in my classes and hopefully use the data I’ve collected from these to present a proposal to our school administration in support of purchasing more sets of TI-Nspires in the future.

Four Common Places of Education:

The Teacher: As the teacher, I will need to learn how to use the TI-Nspire calculators and how to load programs onto the calculators that the students will be using in class.  I will also need to ensure that the questions that accompany both the calculator and web-based activities are relevant and achieve a deeper understanding of algebraic concepts.

The Learner: The learners will have to be able to follow direction and become acquainted with the new TI-Nspired technology as well as the web-based activities.  They will need to monitored for appropriate use of this technology.

The Subject Matter: The subject matter, Algebra I, will be broken down into manageable concepts and skills and will be organized in a way in which concepts and skills are intertwined into word problems, real-world situations, or multi-step applications.

The Context: There will be instruction on appropriate usage of the TI-Nspire calculators in the classroom.  Additionally, the computer lab will need to be checked to ensure that the web-based activities are not blocked by our school’s firewall.  Students will need to be reminded of their technology usage contract that they signed and the consequences for inappropriate use in hopes to minimize misuse.

11/15/2010 04:00:18 am

Lori - your proposal sounds like a great way to attack the problem in a fun and engaging way. I hope your students enjoy the online activities and labs. The TI-Nspire calculators should be a hit with the students.


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