"Technology in Support of Middle Grade Mathematics: What Have We Learned?"
(Guerrero et al., 2004)

Emily Kennedy

As in the Hannafin & Scott article, this article mentions that, "Whereas middle grade teachers express concerns regarding technology use, student attitudes are largely positive and enthusiastic" (p. 9). I think this statment is huge: why would teachers be afraid of technology if students say they enjoy it, especially since both students and research say it improves learning? The article claims teachers' reservations about technology use can be due to lack of availability of technology, lack of familiarity with the technology, or teacher attitudes about its usefulness. Lack of availability is in many cases unfortunately an economic issue which cannot be helped directly by teachers. However, by attending workshops, asking colleagues, or just "messing around with it," teachers canthe help themselves learn more about the technology they are afraid of using with their class. Similarly, although both this article and the Hannafin & Scott article mention that changing teacher attitudes is often difficult, educating teachers in methods of learning and teaching with technology or showing them specific examples of situations in which technology has been used effectively without hampering computational skills and procedural fluency might illustrate that technology, when used appropriately can really make a positive difference to students.

The differences noted by the article between appropriate and inappropriate technology use caught my interest. In my own high school experience, we rarely used technology in a particularly effective way: normally, we just used graphing calculators to quickly draw graphs or occasionally used the Internet to search for information. Thus, my own experiences with technology led me to underestimate its power; I was even a little anti-technology when I began the teaching program here. However, as I saw more examples of appropriate technology use and worked with it myself, I began to realize that technology can be more than simply an expensive way of doing something I already know how to do; it can change the way I look at a problem or at mathematics in general. Thus, I feel it is important to distinguish between inappropriate technology use (like using a calculator to multiply 4 and 5—we've all seen it happen!) and appropriate technology use (as a problem-solving tool). The article even notes that "the manner in which computers and calculators are implemented as part of instruction and learning affects the way in which students view technology as either an instructional or procedural tool" (p. 11). This is certainly true in my experience: when my teachers used technology only to get answers more quickly, I saw it as just a procedural tool, but when I later learned in classes where technology was a vital part of the problem-solving process, I saw its instructional benefits.

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