Answered by Nathalie Paquet-Bélanger
One of the challenges for educators in mathematics is to help students transfer their mathematical understanding from concrete to representational and then to abstract concepts. To support this process, three types of technological tools may prove effective.
Many different functions built into interactive whiteboards effectively support mathematics instruction. Here are a few of the mathematical tools built in:
- shape editor
- Cartesian plane
One particularly useful function for students with LDs is the ability to record video presentations. Educators can record their lessons – perhaps as part of a flipped classroom approach – either during or outside of class, and make the recording available to students through a class website or via email. Students can then re-watch the lesson as many times as they need to without requiring any additional time with the educator.
There are also a wide range of interactive tools that can help students manipulate mathematical concepts at the representational level. For example, students may gain a better understanding of fractions by sharing parts of a whole (such as a pizza) or objects from a collection (such as pens or pencils), as well as by taking measurements of smaller parts of a bigger object. Using this kind of tool on an interactive whiteboard increases students’ interaction with the concepts, which can facilitate their learning.
Finally, some software that can be purchased for interactive whiteboards allow users to create diagrams or graphic organizers, which can be used to help students represent their thinking when solving word problems.
Dynamic Geometry Software
Many educators use dynamic geometry software because of its ability to:
- represent abstract mathematical concepts;
- make hypotheses;
- verify hypotheses; etc.
Some tools combine geometry, algebra, and operations. In class, animations can be used to demonstrate the reasoning behind certain formulas, for example, using rectangles to understand the area of a parallelogram.
Drills and Tutorials
Digital drills and tutorials are especially useful for math because they provide students with immediate feedback as they practice their abstract mathematical strategies. Educators can create their own drills or exercises using free online software, and students can complete the exercises on their computers, phones, or tablets.
It is important to plan for a short explanation after each question to clarify any common mistakes. For example, in a multiple choice quiz with a question about the area of a circle, one answer may correspond to the formula for circumference. Students who select this answer should be reminded of the difference between the two measurements.
Online math tutorials present structured explanations and exercises, and can allow educators to monitor students’ progress.
Additional resources for drills and tutorials:
- Khan Academy
Related Resources on the LD@school Website
Nathalie Paquet-Bélanger is the French Learning Disabilities Consultant of the LD@school team. She is completing a Masters degree in education science at the University of Quebec at Rimouski. She holds a bachelor degree in special education from the same university and a certificate in ICT integration in education (TELUQ). She is also a sessional instructor for the integration of ICT in education at the UQAR. Her current position is special teacher at the Charlesbourg Public Secondary School where she enjoys working with teenagers and a diversity of learning difficulties. Nathalie is glad to bring her contribution and expertise to the LD@school team and to network with teachers sharing the same passion for the success of students with learning disabilities.