Instructional Software - Secondary Mathematics
This course is designed to teach secondary math instructors about a variety of instructional software and their purposes based on the strategies outlined in Educational Technology Into Teaching (5th Ed)
Drill and practice software has long been used for skills practice to supplement worksheets and homework exercise. The relative advantage is that it allows students to set their own pace and provides immediate personalized feedback, thus reducing teachers' workload. One drawback is that teachers may use it as a substitution for teaching. Teachers should limit daily drill and practice time to not more than 15 minutes (p. 82). Plato Learning offers good drill and practice activities and is free for Idaho teachers. Teachers can use Plato features to tailor the functions to the learning needs of a specific student or to a student group. Other Drill and Practice software can be found
Tutorial software provides sequential instruction and can stand alone with no other instruction. Salmon River Schools use Apangea Math to provide enrichment and/or remediation. Relative advantages of Apangea Math include providing differentiated math instruction by integrating tutoring technology and live, online certified teachers; web-based design means students can use a unique login to access their activities from any computer with an internet connection; students can have a self-paced review of instruction.
Online simulations provide true-to-life activities for students to learn how a system works, rather than problem solving strategies. Simulations should have accompanying documentation, and it is important that the teacher knows how to use the program prior to integrating it into the curriculum. Relative advantages of simulations include time savings, money savings, makes potential dangerous situations safe, encourages experiementation, and faciliates ease of difficult processes.
Teachers need to ensure that the simulation provides accurate results and avoid misuse of the simulations.
Instructional games motivate students by adding competition and fun to effective practice. Instruction should include appealing formats and activities that have instructional value. Games are most effective when teachers emphasize the learning outcomes (versus "fun"), how the context rules (order of operations, etc.) differ from the game rules, and balance game and non-game strategies.
Unlike simulations and games, problem solving software is designed specifically to solve a problem, or a set of problems. Teachers should look for software that is interesting and challenging, as well as provides a clear relation to developing a specific skill.
Applications include word-processing, spreadsheet, and presentation tools. These software programs commonly come in a suite. Most used is Microsoft's Office suite, but similar results can be found in Oracle's Open Office which also includes a mathmatical interface (free).
Word processing can be used in math to type blogs, reports, or similar papers that provide an opportunity for reflective practice. Spreadsheets limit the amount of lower-level work in order to spend more time analyzing results and making inferences. Spreadsheets are especially useful when comparing numeric to graphical represenation of data.
Presentatation software provides opportunities for students to share the knowledge that they have acquired.
This course is designed with the International Society for Technology in Education NETS standards for administrators, teachers, and students.
ISTE. (2010, September 27). ISTE NETS Standards. Retrieved June 18, 2011, from ISTE: www.iste.org/standards.aspx
Mathsnet. (2011). Interactive Pythagoras's Theorem . Retrieved July 17, 2011, from Mathsnet: http://www.mathsnet.net/dynamic/pythagoras/theorem.html
Robleyer, M., & Aaron, D. (2010). Educational Technology Into Teaching (Fifth ed.). Allyn and Bacon, Pearson.