Young girl looking at tablet computer in classroom
FEATURE

Technology and the Post Pandemic Era

Beverly Fiddler and Michael Clarke

When the 2019-2020 school year began, ETFO members braced for labour unrest that had not been seen since the Mike Harris days. Who could have predicted the events in early March 2020? Pivoting to a distance learning model was unchartered territory for educators. In September 2020, the continuation of the virtual learning model was mandated and ETFO members found themselves teaching online again. A roll out of virtual learning platforms and the move by some school boards to use a “hybrid” model in the current year has had many challenges. If this were not bad enough the government’s decision to callously implement a new math curriculum last September in the middle of this crisis had educators dealing with further issues.

This year educators have been confronted with the learning gaps and learning loss students experienced as a result of the pandemic. The term “learning recovery” is very quickly becoming a buzz word, but it will be a reality for teachers and students particularly in Math and among already marginalized groups. Technology can have a role in supporting teachers as they address learning gaps/recovery.

A 2015 report from the Organization for Economic Development showed no appreciable improvements with learning since the onset of technology use in the classroom. “Teachers vs Tech,” the latest book released by Daisy Christodoulou centres on reasons education technology has failed to deliver the transformation to more teacher technology delivery. Consider the Los Angeles Unified School Board decision in 2013 to spend 1.3 billion dollars to purchase iPads. Within two years of the roll out, all but two schools had abandoned using the devices for classroom learning. Internet safety, incomplete curriculum to use iPads and inadequate teacher training were cited as reasons for the abandonment. Christodoulou argues there is a place for technology in the classroom, particularly in direct instruction, but teacher expertise and professional judgement must be at the centre of technology implementation.

In 2018, we completed a technology project funded through the Teacher Leadership Learning Program (TLLP) to purchase iPads for our school. Commencing work with Grade 1 and 2 teachers, they would first use iPads for Math curriculum, lesson planning and to support learning through direct instruction. They would then use an assessment program (IXL) to assess student learning, and to create a teacher friendly workbook to support teachers when using iPads for Math learning at any grade. Our school is identified as a “priority school” by our board with many families struggling financially, the population can be transient and there is a growing English Language Learner (ELL) community.

Developing an understanding of specific Math apps is crucial. Some Math apps can support more than one strand of Math and in some cases up to three. Most Math apps do support more than one grade level and we needed to create lessons/instructional strategies for teachers when using iPads as purposeful tools in student learning. Split grades are an area that can maximize student learning using iPads since teachers can deliver instructions to use an app with two grades simultaneously. Using screenshots and voiceovers to teach concepts is a great way for students to learn. Videos can be posted using GOOGLE CLASSROOM that all students with a device and internet can access. We created a workbook with apps and ways to use them in the classroom to support whole class, guided and independent practice.

Click Here to Download a Sample Coding Lesson

Here are some examples of apps that are supported through iPads:

Colour Types

  • App offers three initial colours and shapes
  • Tap to access menu bars at top, offers numerous features including draw
  • Use with grid feature or plain space

graphic showing counting activities for primary or remedial

Counting Activities for Primary or Remedial

Colour Tiles offers numerous activities, whole class, guided and individual instruction to support counting, counting on, addition and subtraction and multiplication.

On the right-side menu bar tap the multiple tab. Tap any colour tile and a tile bar will appear with the multiple selected.  A control panel will appear at the end of the bar. Tap on the icon which looks like a file with a black bar and the Controls will move to the right-hand side of the iPad screen.

Second graphic for counting activities

On the right-side menu bar tap the multiple tab. Tap any colour tile and a tile bar will appear with the multiple selected.  A control panel will appear at the end of the bar. Tap on the icon which looks like a file with a black bar and the Controls will move to the right-hand side of the iPad screen.

Money

  • Money tray with a screen - Canadian denominations
  • Numerous features and draw/create apparatus
  • Appropriate for whole group, guided and independent instruction

Graphic of drawing with pen

In this picture, the writing apparatus is on to display the features of drawing with pen, typing function, as well as other features teachers could use for instruction. They include arrows, pointers, text boxes (text box is used to display question).  Money questions in Grade 1 and 2 could eliminate larger denominations and focus only on expectations in money for these grades.

Pattern Shapes

  • App can be used across numerous grade strands
  • Features include an interactive protractor
  • Calculator is included with this app
  • Use the shapes to demonstrate counting fractions. Visual can provide direct and guided instruction.

Example of other ways to incorporate fractions

The two examples above indicate other ways to incorporate fractions using the app in Primary and Junior grades.

Number Frames

  • Excellent app for Primary
  • Can be used in Junior for multiplication & division
  • Excellent app for remedial in primary and junior

Some students at Tree Glen Public School collect items for recycling. Information about the number of items the girls and boys collect in two days is shown in the chart below.

Chart showing the breakdown of gender by day

The girls and boys collect a total of 50 items over the two days. Determine the number of items the boys collect on Tuesday.

Chart showing totals for each gender as per table above

The 100 chart was used and the totals for each gender were colour coded. The calculator allows for neater work. Writing pens can also be colour coded. This could be an example of whole class, guided or independent.

Number Pieces

  • App is appropriate for Primary and Junior
  • Useful for remedial work
  • Provides effective organization for students when trading for different base 10 blocks  
  • Does not include 1000 base 10

Brock has 112 trading cards. His brother gives him 108 more. Brock then gives away 130 cards to a friend. How many trading cards does Brock have left?

  • 350
  • 110
  • 90
  • 80

graphic illustrating the number prices

Number Line

  • App has a variety of features for counting, multiplying and dividing
  • Useful for estimation and patterning activities
  • Has an integer feature
  • Top left feature allow change in range of numbers

graphic showing number lines

In the three diagrams, steps to showing work using the number line are identified using coloured pens, calculator and tools in this app. Number line is similar to other Mathies apps with writing tool bar and other tool bar features located on the bottom of the page.

Graphic illustrating use of hinge point

This activity could be used with any set of numbers in Primary or Junior. As a Hinge Point Question for estimation. Students identify where a number would be rounded by 10 and 100 as examples.

graphic showing addition of two-digit numbers

Addition of two-digit numbers using tool bar features.

Fractions

Fractions is one of the newest apps to be launched by The Math Learning Centre. Its options do not offer decimals as virtual manipulatives, but it is very user friendly, capable for whole class, guided and independent use.

Graphic showing fraction comparisons

Fraction bar example using three different sizes and colours demonstrates fraction comparisons.

Fraction bar can reduce fractions by identifying a fraction and allowing student to create secondary fraction bars with smaller fractional amounts to identify lowest common denominator.

Here are three examples for adding fractions with modelling. Add or subtract fractions with common and different denominators. This could also be used to model multiplication and division of fractions.

2 graphics showing fractions

Circle fractions can also be used for identifying and comparing.

Circle graph showing fraction modelling

Click Here to Download a Sample Coding Lesson

Beverly Fiddler and Mike Clarke are members of the Durham Teachers Local.