Final Impressions of ISTE 2011

Photography by Kevin Jarrett

This week we heard over and over again, “learning is an experience and if we make it a good experience kids will want to learn more.”

How do we do this?

In an earlier blog, a guest blogger – a high school senior – wrote, “The moment math became textbooks, instead of cute little printed out worksheets, numbers just whirled above my head in a panic-stricken frenzy.” Will a school district have the courage to let go of their textbooks? What do the textbooks add to true learning?

I heard of an English teacher who assigned to her class 100 study questions to answer before a test (an unreasonable task the teacher later admitted). But some students formed a small group, created a Facebook page, and collaborated on the assignment – dividing the assignment among themselves and consulting each other on the best way to answer the questions. The result? They all got top grades in the test. This was a learning experience and did not involve a textbook.

Do we get rid of the textbook, only to put it on the iPad? I saw one of these math textbooks at ISTE and it reminded me of that high school student’s words, the numbers seemed to “whirl” through the pages “in a panic-stricken frenzy.” Will textbooks on the iPad have the same format, perhaps adding some talking heads? The better questions to ask might be: How do we teach math so the concepts are understood, not just memorized? How can we make learning fun so kids want to learn more?

Devoting time to clearly explain a concept takes away from the projects that can make math real and fun. Elevated Math does not replace the teacher or tutor, but frees the time for managing the learning environment, addressing specific problems of individual students, and creating learning experiences. In other words, Elevated Math is designed to help bring more creativity into the classroom.

We understand that making a change is difficult, especially a change such as eliminating textbooks. Also, we understand that the attendees at ISTE are the most forward-thinking people in education. These are the people who can help make education better for our kids, and the Elevated Math team appreciates that very much.

2 thoughts on “Final Impressions of ISTE 2011”

  1. Yes! Learning should be an experience — “learner-centered” instruction should be the method. We should be coaches who step in to help students discover, understand, and apply math concepts authentically.

    I love books, but wish the formats had less (problems, etc.). But, learning is in the process. Who actually assigns/completes each and every problem in the textbook?

    I think that the 100 problems assigned and assimilated via a facebook study group was AUTHENTIC and gave students ownership. We need more problem- and project-based style learning communities.

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