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Topic: Computer Tools at PreK2


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Subject:   RE: Computer Tools at PreK2
Author: Teach Math
Date: Aug 26 2004
Thank you for your thoughtful considerations about what is appropriate and
important for young children to learn mathematics and use it meaningfully. I
agree that we must have a balance among the tools we use when teaching children.


You might wish to read some resources and research prepared by Doug Clements and
Julia Sarama at SUNY at Buffalo. They have done extensive studies regarding the
use of computer technology with young children. You might also want to look at
Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, 2000. Please, pay particular
attention to the Technology Principles, Representations Process Standard and the
PreK-2 chapter of the document. Some technology tools developed to accompany
Principles and Standards are available at illuminations.nctm.org.  

Based upon my own experience (many years of teaching), I have found that
computer environments accommodate many learners who are not successful with
other tools. One story pertinent to this topic is about a first grade autistic
student who was extremely successful AFTER I learned that the computer allowed
him to generate and respond to text and ideas in ways that other formats did
not.

When conducting research with students identified as proficient and those who
are not proficient, the dynamic nature of applets allowed them to "see"
mathematical concepts that were otherwise unavaible to them. Additional research
on Visual Literacy has helped me understand that multiple representations make
mathematical concepts available to a wider range of students, many of whom may
not demonstrate possession of a "math gene" without the electronic interaction
that makes concepts "viewable."

Select your resources with care but please allow students opportunities to see
the educational value of tools that are present in their homes. Observing,
questioning and interviewing them as they engage in learning with technology
tools may provide insights that are surprising and help students learn important
mathematics.

Carol Midgett

On Aug 26 2004, Bethany wrote:
> I have some concern, and I've heard it voiced by other teachers who
> teach at this level too, that using computer tools to explore
> mathematics is really NOT appropriate.

I'd like to know how
> others feel about this topic.  Are there appropriate uses for
> computers at this level that truly benefit student learning as
> opposed to other methods of teaching?  If so, I would love to know
> what you've found useful.  If not, I'd like to hear about those
> experiences as well.

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