Texas Mathematics Teacher Spring/Summer 2018 - 18

What Can Elementary Teachers Do
with Technology? There's an App for That
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM,
2015) indicated that strategic use of technology should
enhance the learning process. Many teachers have access
to current technologies but do not always know how to use
the technology in ways that enhance both their teaching
and students' learning. Research has indicated that student
engagement can positively impact both teaching and
learning (Christenson, Reschly, & Wylie, 2012). In order for
the integration of technology to enhance the classroom, the
technology should be engaging and interactive. Engaging
and interactive use of technology is not simply watching
a video or using a calculator to perform procedural
algorithms where students plug in numbers and chug
through the operations, often referred to as "plug and
chug." Engaging and interactive technology grabs
students' interest, solicits analytical thought, and facilitates
student discussion of mathematical concepts. The iPad can
do all of these things.
The purpose of this article is to help teachers engage
students in mathematical explorations using iPads and
independent apps. While this article focuses on the use
of iPads, comparable applications may be available on
other platforms and devices. Manipulatives have been
integral tools in teaching mathematics for many years.
In 1960, Jerome Bruner, at a joint conference between
the Mathematics Association of America and NCTM,
stressed the importance of using manipulatives when
teaching mathematics (Klein, 2003). In the late 1980s,
Marilyn Burns advocated for the use of manipulatives
and created a professional development video series
entitled Mathematics with Manipulatives (Burns, 1996).
In the late 1990's Utah State University created a library
of virtual manipulatives in order to support students'
conceptual and procedural knowledge in mathematics

(Reimer & Moyer, 2005). More recently, iPad apps, related
to manipulatives, have shown positive results in early
childhood performance and efficiency in mathematics
(Moyer-Packenham, et al., 2015). In addition, Burns and
Hamm (2011) found no difference in using either virtual
or concrete manipulatives when attempting to engage
students and improve their understanding of mathematics.
There are iPad apps available for numerous mathematical
manipulatives. A few examples of how a teacher can use
these apps to enhance both teaching and learning are
described here.
First, imagine a first grade teacher who has a class set
of concrete CuisenaireĀ© Rods and an iPad connected to
a projector. The teacher wants to have students explore
different addends of five using rod trains in order
to address elements of the first grade TEKS 3(B): use
objects and pictorial models to solve word problems
involving joining, separating, and comparing sets
within 20 and unknowns as any one of the terms in the
problem such as 2 + 4 = [ ]; 3 + [ ] = 7; and 5 = [ ] - 3.
Figure 1 describes one way to use the iPad, in conjunction
with the concrete manipulatives, to enhance student
learning within this standard.

Figure 1: The iPad engages students and dynamically models content.

The teacher begins by handing pairs of
students a set of CuisenaireĀ© Rods and
asking them to find all the different
combinations of rods that equal the same
length as the yellow rod. As the students
work to find all of the rod trains, the
teacher takes photographs of complete
and incomplete sets of trains that can be
used for discussion related to student
thinking.

18

| Spring/Summer 2018

The teacher uses the Explain Everything
App1 to capture photographs of students'
constructions of the rod trains to expand
the lesson towards recording number
sentences. The Apple Pencil can be used
with the iPad Pro to allow students to
record their number sentences on top of
the photograph of their constructions.

The teacher then uses a manipulative app,
like Brainingcamp's CuisenaireĀ© Rods App2,
that has a function to label the rods. The
teacher can then proceed to construct all of
the possible combinations of rods that equal
the yellow, five rod. If the teacher has the
available technology to wirelessly mirror
their iPad screen, the iPad could be given
to students who can complete the above
constructions.

Texas Mathematics Teacher



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