October 18, 2011

Mathematical Miseducation

This article provides commentary on the traditional mathematics education paradigm, its detrimental consequences, and evidence and reasons for shifting to current reform in primary and secondary education. Battista introduces controversial criticisms to current reform movements being made in mathematics education and how the majority of American schools still follow the traditional route when teaching students math. He explains that this route leads to failure of students to retain understanding, thus wasting enormous amounts of time and money to reteach students concepts they had been taught in previous years. After reviewing a short history of the mathematics education reform movement, Battista elaborates on the constructivist view that students must personally construct mathematical ideas as they make sense of a situation.

I think like any major change in society, the reform movement in mathematics education will take time to catch on. Scientific studies on this subject have only come into play within the past quarter-century, and in the world of scholarly research, this is relatively young. The thesis of Battista’s article is not to educate readers about mathematics education reform, but to educate readers about mathematics educators who are not educating themselves about mathematics education reform. In a way, he is “preaching to the choir.” By that I mean, his audience by definition will have already agreed with his point of view. The people he is trying to persuade are not likely aware of this article. However, I think that research about research can help, through recommendation and word of mouth. Readers of this article can recommend it to their uninformed colleagues, and every bit of awareness helps.

The more teachers that take Battista’s research into account and spread the news to fellow educators, administrators, and policymakers, the more the mathematics education community can be lead in the right direction. Soon the traditional mode of teaching will no longer be mainstream, and students will be accustomed to constructing their own understanding.


  • Battista, M. T. (). The mathematical miseducation of America's youth: Ignoring research and scientific study in education. Phi Delta Kappan, 80(6), 424–432.

Teachers' Support

A three-minute video of the student-teacher dialog

Jacobs and Philipp (2010) explore the possibilities of support that teachers can provide to students during problem solving. They discussed four basic types of support:

  1. support that focuses on the teacher’s mathematical thinking,
  2. support that focuses on the child’s mathematical thinking,
  3. support that focuses on the child’s affect, and
  4. support that includes general teaching moves.

When working with students on an individual basis, support that focuses on that student’s thinking is best. Teachers must adjust their instructional behavior to fit every individual student’s needs. In the example of Rex, this teacher said she would use what she learned about Rex’s thinking on the first two problems to help him solve the third, more challenging, one. Rex liked to use his fingers instead of the manipulatives that were available, so teachers should not push for use of one manipulative over another. In addition, children often think about math differently than adults do, and many can offer new ideas to the table. Provided the opportunity, teachers can learn from their students all the time.

That is not to say that the other three types are not appropriate. In a class discussion or lecture-type class, support that focuses on the teacher’s thinking is more suitable, since the teacher is providing content and modeling processes for the students. Students’ affect should always be taken into account, especially for struggling students; and general teaching moves are useful ‘go-to’ tools in everyday instruction.

This article would have major effectiveness in a traditional classroom. In this type of classroom, all students follow along with the teacher at the same pace, and individual needs are rarely attended to. Usually, problem solving is nonexistent because there is only one or two ‘right’ ways to solve a problem, and these ways are presented by the teacher. The students’ job is to remember how the teacher solved it and perform the same procedure on a similar problem in assessment. Rather, problem solving itself includes the task of figuring out on one’s own the method of solving the problem, and then carrying out that method. Once the algorithm for completing a task is known, the problem is no longer a ‘problem’ even if the answer is still unknown (Harvey, 2010b, p. 3).

Teachers could, and will, benefit from concentrating on students’ mathematical thinking when instructing their classes. By calling for more student involvement and keeping their classes stimulating, engaging, and fun, teachers can get to know their students and how they think mathematically.


  • Jacobs, V. R., & Philipp, R. A. (). Supporting children's problem solving. Teaching Children Mathematics, 17(2), 98–105.

August 30, 2011

High-Level Tasks

Henningsen and Stein (1997) begin with some background information about the (relatively) new theories about thinking and doing mathematics, which depends on educators' view of the nature of mathematics. The research shows that one theory that has been increasing in popularity is one that emphasizes exploration and has a dynamic stance of education, and holds that student learning is seen as the process in which students develop their own opinions, beliefs, and perspectives of mathematics.

Activities that promote having a mathematical disposition include the following (Henningsen & Stein, 1997, p. 525). These are the processes that students should take away from their mathematical studies, not necessarily the specific content that is covered in their classes.

  • Looking for and exploring patterns
  • Using available resources effectively and appropriately to solve problems
  • Thinking and reasoning in flexible ways
  • Conjecturing, generalizing, justifying, and communicating one's mathematical ideas
  • Deciding on whether mathematical results are reasonable

In order to promote these activities, teachers must situate their classroom environments such that students engage in high-level tasks. The introduction of this article includes an in-depth discussion of the importance of high-level tasks, the difficulties that may arise from implementing such tasks, and the ways of supporting such implementations.

The authors report that tasks are essential in a mathematics lesson because they give students messages about what “doing mathematics” is. So tasks teachers pose have a major influence on how students think mathematically, and thus they have an altered perception of mathematics. This brings us to the point of developing tasks with a high level of cognitive demand. But implementing these tasks in a high-level manner is not so easy. Since students are comfortable with being told what to do, sometimes teachers lower the rating of a task by making it more simple or giving students a procedure.

To avoid implementing high-level tasks in a low-level manner, Henningsen and Stein (1997) offer some factors, as outlined in Henningsen (2000, p. 245). Teachers should focus on the meaning of the content, rather than the procedures involved in calculating it. Scaffolding is another useful tool. By using students' prior knowledge and building them up to a new concept, they will more easily connect ideas together creating a richer conceptual understanding of a topic. Other strategies mentioned are modeling and self-monitoring.

The remainder of the research in Henningsen and Stein's (1997) article is shown in their empirical study, in which they demonstrate factors that support high-level thinking, reasoning, and sense-making.


  • Henningsen, M., & Stein, M. K. (). Mathematical tasks and student cognition: Classroom-based factors that support and inhibit high-level mathematical thinking and reasoning. Journal for Research in Mathematical Education, 28(5), 524–549.
  • Henningsen, M. A. (). Triumph through adversity: Supporting high-level thinking. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 6(4), 244–248.
  • Smith, M. S., Bill, V., & Hughes, E. K. (). Thinking through a lesson: Successfully implementing high-level tasks. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 14(3), 132–138.

April 14, 2011

Alternative Assessment

Goetz (2005) believes cooperation plays an important role in learning, and that, we should assess what we value (p. 12). Ergo, his assessments in his precalculus classes contain cooperative activities in which students' grades are partially dependent on the interactivity and communication between the students. His tasks are posed as open-ended word problems with real-world applications. In one example, given a data set the students were expected to construct a mathematical equation that models that data. There was a diverse range of answers varying from polynomial to rational to exponential functions.

The students' grades were based on a grading rubric, which the students were aware of before the exam. One of the elements on the rubric took group participation into account, and the students were expected to explain the specific roles each member played in the cooperative activity. That way, each student would get the deserved amount of credit. Goetz believes in using assessment as a tool for learning, such that students will turn an exam into a learning experience. This corresponds with NCTM's view that assessment should enhance student learning.

Grading rubrics are essential for assessment. In my personal experience and from advice from my educators, I can report that students' scores on assessments without rubrics can become subjective and open to interpretation, and are a potential source of conflict between teacher and parents. In order to provide an explicit and objective grade, a grading rubric must be used. The higher resolution a rubric has, the more accurate students' score will be on that particular task. Sometimes, though, teachers create rubrics that are hard for students to understand, thus the students might score more poorly than if they had a clear indication of what is expected of them.

Brown-Herbst (1999) had her middle-school students construct their own grading rubric. Her class's rubric was based on a final draft submitted by teachers from twelve schools participating in a statewide project in Alaska. While constructing the rubric, her students had to interpret the language used by teachers to gain an understanding of the spectrums of performance. After three days of debate and discussion among the middle-schoolers, they finalized a rubric that was to be used on not only their end of year exam, but also on that project itself. In other words, the students were being assessed by their own criteria.

A project such as the one implemented by Brown-Herbst (1999) takes much time and planning, but the knowledge and skills gained by the students are worth it. Students reflected NCTM's (2000) Communication process standard: they translated mathematical teacher language into mathematical student language, and conveyed concepts and ideas to one another and refined them. Even previously implicit ideas have been made explicit by students who asked each other to clarify meaning; e.g., [a] seventh-grade girl spoke up: I need to know exactly what the math thing is (p. 453).

A final example as another form of assessment is offered by Bailey and Chen (2005). They introduced the graphing portfolio, in which students are expected to trace out a picture or graphic by using functions (either cartesian or a combination of cartesian and polar) to illustrate the lines in the graphic. This method is slightly related to Goetz's (2005) example, in that students are working backwards with functions: given a function's graph (or a curve of best fit), they need to find the equation. Graphing portfolios are useful for an artistic and creative touch in a mathematics course.


  • Bailey, E. C., & Chen, F. (). Graphing portfolios in calculus: Reinforcing concepts and inviting creativity. Mathematics Teacher, 98(6), 404–407.
  • Brown-Herbst, K. (). So math isn't just answers. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 4(7), 448–455.
  • Goetz, A. (). Using open-ended problems for assessment. Mathematics Teacher, 99(1), 12–17.

April 7, 2011

Activating Prior Knowledge

Stillman (2000) elaborates on the different classes of, and the importance of, prior knowledge in the way students approach a task. Prior knowledge of the academic variety consists of knowledge gained through outside academic experiences, such as content learned in another class or study. Encyclopaedic prior knowledge includes general facts and trivia of the world, and episodic prior knowledge is that which is gained by a learner from personal experiences outside of an academic setting.

Sloyer (2004) offers a strategy he calls the extension-reduction strategy. This is a pedagogical strategy in which a teacher will present a problem that requires his or her students to use their prior knowledge to construct new knowledge. The goal of the strategy is to get the students to reduce the new problem down to a simpler and better understood problem (e.g., finding the area of a polygon by subdividing it into triangles). The teacher's role is to help and guide the students in activating their prior knowledge. Even though the students may have this prior knowledge, they may not always know how to use it productively. The example that Sloyer gives is a problem in which students try to find the volume of a segment of a cone. The prior knowledge here was that of finding a part of a whole. The value of the desired part is found by taking the value of the whole (whether that be a region's area, a finite series, a solid's volume, etc.) and subtracting the extra amount.

Hare's (2004) example is a bit more complex. In this study, students learned implicit differentiation by reinforcing and expanding their concept of a function. Students had varying misconceptions of the definition of function and thus could not take the implicit derivative of an equation properly. Through guided questions and activities, the students were not only able to use their prior knowledge but also improve on it, while at the same time gain new knowledge.


  • Hare, A. & Phillippy, D. (). Building mathematical maturity in calculus: Teaching implicit differentiation through a review of functions. Mathematics Teacher, 98(1), 6–12.
  • Sloyer, C. W. (). The extension-reduction strategy: Activating prior knowledge. Mathematics Teacher, 98(1), 48–50.
  • Stillman, G. (). Impact of prior knowledge of task content on approaches to applications tasks. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 19, 333–361.

March 24, 2011

A Student Teacher's Curriculum

Gwen Lloyd, Ph.D., is a former faculty member at my alma mater, Virginia Tech. She was my advisor when I initially transferred into the Mathematics Education program here. Her article explores one student teacher's interaction with materials used in a kindergarten mathematics curriculum. Anne, the student teacher participant, had used two different approaches to her use of curriculum, but in both cases, each use was adaptive (p. 63).

I had used this article as one of my resources for my Curriculum Principle Project. The most relevant sections of the article were not those of Lloyd's methods and results, but of the background research. Lloyd talks about the history of views of teachers' curriculum use. Over time, researchers have had a great contrast of views, ranging from the view that teachers see the textbook as a fixed source of any and all information that is to be delivered to the students in a linear manner; to the polar opposite view that teachers are interpreters of information, changing the curriculum to suit their own classes' needs. Further, two specific, independent studies had analogous findings: they each demonstrated that these contrasting views are extremes of a linear spectrum, with any kind of teacher interaction with curriculum falling on any point on the spectrum.

The motive for Lloyd's study was reasonable. As I've stated in my Curriculum project, I think it's important to learn more about how teachers interact with their curriculum because we can use that information, cross-referenced with data about students' responses, to see what works and what doesn't. Knowing this, we can change and develop, and know how to change and develop, a curriculum that fits students' needs.

After reading the research questions, I found out that Anne was using two different sets of materials (abbreviated EM and MTW (p. 71)) in her kindergarten mathematics instruction. What I wanted to know was whether she used these different sets in the same class, or across different class. If the latter is true, I wonder how big of an effect differential Anne will have on her students' lives at such a young age. If she is using different methods on different classes would there be a butterfly effect? This question applies all the time, when we consider different teachers of the same course. I found out later in the Data Collection section that she, and another teacher, were using both of these materials on the same class, with alternate chunks of time (2 to 4 consecutive days) devoted to each set. It turns out that Anne's class is receiving instruction from both material sets.

Another data collection discussion I found interesting was that among the four kindergarten teachers in this class, each teacher saw one-fourth of students each day, and rotated stations. That way each teacher would have to teach the same lesson each day for 4 days in a row, to a different group of students. Lloyd also pointed out that in this system, the students got to participate with each of the teachers, but none of the teachers were able to observe each other.

I think the Findings section was very in-depth and complete. Lloyd covered Anne's use of each set of materials and the Curriculum Design and Curriculum Construction in each set.

The Discussion talked about how Anne fell on the spectrum from the two studies. She initially lay on the middle of the spectrum but her alterations were leaning her to the right (towards the more deviant extreme). The rest of the Discussion was about what factors could have been an influence in Anne's curriculum use. I think this is a major subject to talk about for any kind of data collection. There are so many variables that we must account for when collecting data, and we need to consider how much and what kind of an effect they have on the data. This also helps contribute to suggestions for future research: to conduct a wider, less in-depth, study and to minimize the variables.

Lloyd suggests that future research examine teachers at different levels of experience and us[e] different types of mathematics curriculum materials and textbooks (p. 91). Basically, she suggests that future researchers broaden the scope to get a better understanding of how Anne's case can be generalized. After all, the findings from Anne's class are particular and specific to her class only. Teachers who are reading this study must be careful when interpreting its results.


  • Lloyd, G. M. (). Curriculum use while learning to teach: One student teacher's appropriation of mathematics curriculum materials. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 39(1), 63–94.
  • Vennebush, G. P., Marquez, E., & Larsen, J. (). Embedding algebraic thinking throughout the mathematics curriculum. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 11(2), 86–93.

February 3, 2011

Classroom Management

While watching the video, I first noticed the huge differences between classrooms in 1947 and classrooms today. All the desks were facing front, in neat rows and columns. I find in most current classrooms have desks clustered and facing in all directions, or arranged in concentric arcs like in an auditorium. When the students answered questions, they stood up and spoke without permission while modern classroom teachers require their students to raise their hands and wait to be called on. If I were the teacher, I wouldn’t have done the math myself when explaining the conversion problem. I would have focused on bigger concepts, or asked the students how to do the math.

I found it familiar that while the teacher was gone, the students talked and goofed around. This was common in many of my high school classes. One of the things I found unfamiliar was the fact that the teacher was working on the board while the silent class watched and took notes. As a high school student most of my teachers would take a more active role and engage the class.

In the first scenario, the teacher expected the students to be well behaved and silent. He expected them to know how to study and raise their grades without knowing how. In the second scenario, the teacher asked more questions and expected the students to participate. He was still expecting good behavior but was more lenient when punishing bad behavior. With this friendlier attitude, the students respected him more and were less likely to act out.

Reflecting on this video in class, we talked about the six NCTM principles.

  • Equity was the most apparent issue. The class was probably 100% white. The teacher was using examples that were sexist. Girls were supposed to be good at cooking and boys were supposed to be good at building.
  • Regarding Learning, the students were all expected to learn the way the teacher taught. There was no accountability for differences in learning styles.
  • The Teaching was not student-centered and very lecture oriented. In a modern classroom, the teaching is supposed to be more interactive.
  • In the second scenario, the teacher was more critical of the Curriculum. When demonstrating a problem, the teacher left no “wait time”, or student interaction. The focus was on the conversion from yards into feet.
  • Using the Assessment, the teacher could figure out which topics the students had most trouble with.
  • The only available Technology in 1947 was the textbooks, chalkboard, and pencil and paper (used traditionally).


February 1, 2011

Teachers' Conceptions of Equity

The motivation for the article stems from the assumption that the majority of secondary math teachers have largely unexamined, varying conceptions of what NCTM's Equity Principle means in the classroom. The research question asks what equity means and how we will recognize it when we see it.

Teachers participating in the study met monthly over a year, for about 2.5 hours each meeting. They discussed their initial conceptions about equity, findings from reading research about equity, and their final conceptions about equity after the sessions. This reminded me of my Senior Seminar class, when we would reflect on articles that focused on a particular mathematical content or process (e.g. Trig functions, Representation, etc.), and then would discuss our conclusions and reactions. One of the things we were taught to do was to assume everybody in the class has read the assigned article, so that we wouldn't waste time summarizing.

I am trying to simulate that same practice in this blog (Mathematics Education Research). Even though it would be easy to summarize the research that I find interesting for those who haven't read it, I have to remind myself that anyone interested in reading those articles can obtain the resources to do so. Else, the article's abstract provides a summary. Rather, this blog is more about my reactions and thoughts about the readings—or viewings—so that I can expand on it and provide insight for myself and others.

Anyway, the results of the first part of the study showed that the teachers' conceptions of equity fell into four major categories, and that although these categories were remarkably different from one another, the participants agreed that the responsibility of working toward equity falls on the teacher. During the second half of the study, teachers were asked to pick one student in their class, who was struggling mathematically, to get to know on a more personal level. The teachers that succeeded found that those students raised their level of engagement and achievement in the classroom.

Bartell and Meyer (2008) conclude that the first step for teachers to support and maintain equity is to explore and identify their own conceptions of equity. Further, becoming more personal with an under-proficient student can boost morale and achievement, and not to mention, help the teacher form bonds with his or her students. The authors then pose a few open-ended questions at the end, perhaps as motivation for future research.


  • Bartell, T. G., & Meyer, M. R. (). Addressing the equity principle in the mathematics classroom. Mathematics Teacher, 101(8), 604–608.

January 27, 2011

Graphing Calculator Use: Activity and Affect

The thesis of this article provides an effective method that captures data on how and why individual students choose to use graphing calculators—henceforth, HGT—outside of whole class situations. I believe McCulloch's purpose is clear and valid. Most recent research on HGT focuses on its effect on student achievement, or else focuses on the teaching and learning of a specific topic in content. This past research drives her interests in this paper:

  1. When students work independently rather than in a large group, what are they actually doing with HGT?
  2. What aspects of HGT do they attend to?
  3. How do emotions, values, beliefs affect their HGT activity decisions?

McCulloch mentions several difficulties and drawbacks about traditional methods of data collection, so offering a new method and determining its effectiveness has well-founded intentions.

To address the problem solving strategies and decision making in detail, a task-based interview is typically implemented. Basically, this means the problem solver—the subject—will think out loud in front of the interviewer. However this design is unsuitable if it is used to collect data about emotions and values. McCulloch's study combines the task-based interview with a video-SR (video stimulated response, a procedure in which videotaped behavior is played back to the subject in hopes that he/she will recall his/her activity). With this combination of designs, the subject will recall both cognitive and affective activity. In addition to capturing the subject's activity, a video capture card was used to capture the screen activity on the HGT. When these three components are put together, the event is recreated.

I think this method should be used for an intensive examination of a subject, but would not be appropriate as an extensive study for a large group or class. The resources of time, money, and equipment are simply not available. The article also mentions other limitations.

McCulloch makes several conclusions from her study:

  1. The methodology used is very effective regarding capturing data from individual students, and opens many doors to future research.
  2. The methodology captures information that was unattainable in the past.
  3. The methodology allows students to reflect and recap their activities with the HGT, providing a learning experience.

I'd like to make one more point about the outcomes of this study. In the article, one of the limitations identified was that the subject's emotions played an important role when reviewing the video-SR interview. therefore… the student will associate [them] with that event in the future (p. 80). I do not see this as a drawback though. In my experience, the concepts with which I associated certain emotions were the ones that I remembered the most in school. Teachers should always promote positive emotions in students and never negative ones, but I cannot ignore the fact that I achieved well when I was tested on the concepts for which I had negative feelings.


  • McCulloch, A. W. (). Insights into graphing calculator use: Methods for capturing activity and affect. International Journal for Technology in Mathematics Education, 16(2), 75–81.

January 25, 2011

Teacher as Researcher

One of the benefits of teachers taking an active part in the field of research is the community formed among educators. Research allows teachers to reflect on their own pedagogical knowledge and to share and revise it with each other. Lankford (2003) provides a step-by-step sequence for novice researchers interested in becoming more active.

Thinking About Research involves simply motivating oneself to read more relavant literature and to stay informed on current trends and recommendations. Research is to be considered as a tool that provides direction when it comes to trying new approaches and techniques in the classroom.

When Reading and Discussing Research, educators should read a wide range of literature and discuss, using personal experience, the implications it has in the classroom. In this way, teachers are able to bounce ideas off of one another and gain broader perspectives.

Designing and Critiquing Classroom Investigations: At a certain point, teacher teams are comfortable enough to discuss suggestions and critiques for new implementation. It is at this point that the research theory becomes practical.

In addition to Lankford's approach, she provides specific examples of different types of informal investigations conducted in her team's classrooms. These illustrations make clear how important the teacher's role is in research.

After reading the chapter, I had a few questions:

  1. How would more conservative teachers feel about new ideas involving research and new teaching methods?
  2. In terms of grading, educators focus on the processes involved. However, in the ‘real world,’ only the results matter. How can teachers reduce these conflicting pressures in students? Is it fair for teachers to grade processes and results equally?
  3. In what ways does research adversely affect students? When testing new techniques, are the students acting as ‘guinea pigs?’ For example, if two different methods were used on two different classes, and later results showed that one method was significantly more effective, is it fair for the students in the opposite class?


  • Lankford, N. K. (). Teacher as researcher: What does it really mean? In P. S. Wilson (Ed.), Research ideas for the classroom: High school mathematics (pp. 279–289). New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company.

January 20, 2011

NCTM Principles Overview

After reading NCTM's six Principles for School Mathematics, I obtained a better understanding of the features required to produce a high-quality educational environment for mathematics students. NCTM emphasizes that the Principles are not mutually exclusive, i.e. they address overlapping themes. I believe the Principles are also collectively exhaustive, i.e. they try to encompass all of the features necessary in the math classroom.

I agree that all students are capable of learning mathematics. However I believe some students are more advanced than others. Like sports, some athletes are good at baseball while others are good at hockey. In the academic setting, there are going to be students ahead of the learning curve and behind the learning curve, and these students will vary from math to English. Teachers should be able to accommodate for this aspect of diversity (among others) while keeping expectations high.

Mathematics is a subject that well exhibits the Curriculum Principle. Math itself is cumulative, so I find it easy to make connections between content areas within the subject. As the NCTM says, the strands are highly interconnected (2000, p. 15). The more easily students can see and realize this, the more connections they will make. The NCTM recommendations for curriculum will help narrow in on the tasks I will need to accomplish while constructing lesson plans.

I never realized the impact teachers make on their students until I heard it. One school year might not seem like a long time, but in the minds of the students it can make all the difference. Looking back on my own experiences in high school and reading about the effects of a single teacher on an entire class enforces this view. Realizing that one can change the lives of children forever may be a scary thought but it can also be a good one if teaching is done effectively. I think an effective teacher has a good balance of content knowledge (knowledge about what the students know and what they need to learn) and pedagogical knowledge (knowledge about how to teach). Teachers also need to continually seek improvement on their own part. As a teacher I plan to continue my exposure to research on mathematics and education so that my teaching practices will be continually improving. This is furthermore in the best interest of the students because as generations change, pedagogical methods (along with content) will change.

I believe the best way to learn is to be in one's Zone of Proximal Development. Students need to be challenged and supported. When a task is challenging enough to overcome boredom, but not too challenging as to promote anxiety, the student is in the ZPD and will learn with understanding. Students need to be able to build on previous knowledge, elaborate on new concepts, and organize concepts in a way that helps them remember them the easiest.

New opinions about assessment open up doors that I had not realized existed in the past. Assessment is foremost used as a tool to detect what students learned and how well they learned it, but it is also used as feedback for the students. Students should easily distinguish their place in the curriculum so they know exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are. Assessment should be used as an intermediary to help students learn, not as the end to a unit where students will never have to use that information again. On the other side, assessment can be used to aid teachers. For example, teachers will know which students are excelling or falling behind in certain areas, and will be able to make decisions for future instruction.

The aid of technology helps level the playing field. This goes back to the Equity Principle. Technology helps students focus on the bigger problems at hand, such as those involving decision-making and problem solving. The increase in technology yields changes in curriculum and changes in views on which concepts are essential in the classroom. Technology shifts the students’ attention from thoughtless algorithms to more complex thinking.

There are a few Principles that stand out when regarding mathematics: the Curriculum and Technology Principles. I favorite these two Principles because I believe they are crucial in the mathematics classroom. As I’ve stated above, math is one of the subjects that is a continuous field with overlapping grey areas rather than a collection of discrete facts or figures. There are more connections that can be made in math than any other subject in secondary school (in my opinion), so building on these connections is essential for students to learn effectively. Technology is the other Principle that sticks out to me. It is true that technology can be used in other courses, but I believe it can be most appreciated in a math course. Not only does technology act as a tool that enhances the learning of math, it is also determines the behavior of students and teachers with regards to content. The more (and better) technology is available, the more students will be able to make decisions, think critically, and focus on meaning.


  • The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (). Principles and standards for school mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM.