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Topic: Thoughts on use of tools
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Subject:   RE: Thoughts on use of tools
Author: George Reese
Date: May 4 2004
Hi Jon,

I think when Nick Exner created this tool, it was at my request, in response to
emails asking for "basic skills" tools. I think too, my daughter was five or six
at the time and I was curious how she would respond to an online tool that was
the same and the physical manipulative. (She was bored by both very quickly.)
They're routine skill builders. No compelling reason for such a thing to be
online (or not online). It takes no imagination, but reinforces skills.

I think there is a place for such things. I few minutes of toying with it,
perhaps at a few separate times. But I hope everyone would agree that tools like
this should not at the forefront of anyone's instruction.

I wonder why use say technology shouldn't be used for rote practice? Why not?
Some applets are definitely more inspiring than others, but even the humble
flash card has it's place.


On May 04, 2004, jon wrote:

So ... there's not too much to say about this tool.  It works, it does it's job.
The only purpose of the tool, however, I'd say is to save space so that you
don't have notecards cluttering up your desk.

So, that I don't come off as ragging on this man's hard work.  I thought I'd
take this time to ask a deeper question, what is the purpose of the tools that
we use in class?  Certainly, this is a question left open to personal taste and
teaching style.

My belief is that the students should be left with something new after they work
with a new tool.  A concept should be reinforced and more deeply understood, or
a new concept should be learned.  Technology should not be used for rote
practice.  Though this specific tool is a pretty obvious example of this misuse,
other tools can be just as un-enlightening.  In some sense, the use of
technology can too easily become a digital blackboard, which I think is not the
BEST use for it.  

So, a few questions to think about before incorporating technology into the

1.) Technology before instruction or vice versa?

2.) What skills or techniques do the students come to understand from the tool?
(Because there are certainly procedures to math, but how does the tool present
it in a NEW way)

3.) Where is thinking and reasoning being shown in the tool?


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