Mathematics Education (Signadou)
Welcome to the Wireless Networked Classroom
Classroom communication systems have been the subject of research for over a decade now, as means of engaging students and developing higher order thinking skills as an integral part of their learning. The new TI-Navigator wireless classroom network makes all of this possible and more. This session introduces some of the capabilities of this exciting new technology for learning and describes some of the ways it has been used this year with preservice primary teachers in Canberra.
It is surprising how effectively television insinuates itself into popular language and culture, especially among the young. Simply mentioning the word "millionaire" in any classroom is likely to result in mixed reactions from students, but a common base of recognition. In particular, the idea of gathering immediate responses to questions from large numbers of people is now a familiar one, and students when first introduced to a Classroom Communication System (CCS), such as the new TI-Navigator system from Texas Instruments, readily make this connection. What may surprise them about this system may be the use of the now-familiar handheld graphing calculators used in mathematics classes as the medium, and the ability of this system to gather, not only multiple-choice responses, but short answer and even essay-style responses, using the TI-Keyboard. Even more surprising, perhaps, may be the growing range of applications to which such a system may contribute in creating a quality learning environment, which is not only active and engaging, but cognitively rich and varied.
My first reaction to the concept of a wireless classroom network was not overly enthusiastic, since I saw it relating most readily to a "multiple-choice" classroom mentality, focused on limited content-based assessment. Certainly, if our classrooms were driven by frequent multiple-choice tasks, then it would be very convenient to be able to instantly "harvest" student responses, automatically grade them, and then display these results. This, however, was not my idea of an effective mathematics learning environment. Very few of the things that mattered to me could be assessed through such means, with their obvious dependence upon recall and rote learning. Better suited, perhaps, to US classrooms with their emphasis upon "pop quizzes" and standardised testing at all levels.
How wrong I was.
During Semester Two this year, students from the Bachelor of Education (Primary) course at Signadou campus in Canberra have made regular use of a wireless classroom network system. It has been used, not to gather right/wrong multiple-choice responses, but instead to build skills of critical reflection, to offer opportunities for substantive communication, to build deep knowledge and understanding about significant concepts and skills related to teaching and learning mathematics, and to engage them actively and often in higher-order thinking and metalanguage concerning some "big ideas".
What does good teaching look like?
Stephen Mark ARNOLD
Room 206 Phone 02 62091142