My first foray into the net was joining the geometry forum discussions last winter! After a few weeks of observing I found myself jumping in to comment on some teaching technique or to offer an idea on a problem. It was addicting!
Nevertheless, I wasn't convinced of the place the net could serve in a classroom until I did research for a major paper. I accessed library lists, of course, and surfed some math home pages gathering materials and a bibliography of articles. Then I asked a few questions on the forum itself. The response was amazing. Anything I had been reading was two to three years old. The e-mail I received was 'hot off the presses' and some came from the researchers themselves. I was immediately struck by the potential--and the potential problems.
At this point I think the following areas are important uses of the internet for high school math students and consequently important for us to keep in mind this summer:
--knowing where to find research materials on project or essay topics - how about developing a list of sites for math research related specifically to the high school level?
--knowing where to find data (e.g. rainfall for states, currency values, interest rates for different banks, epidemic statistics) in order to do meaningful problems in statistics--or how about sharing data or having two or three groups pool statistics for a mega project?
--being able to access enrichment materials such as puzzles or challenge problems - the forum already does this with the POW, but what about a site with puzzles at different levels which could be attempted and then checked?
--being aware of the internet's use in the academic community - how about a 'netwatch' to keep kids abreast of the discussions of a few topics that are beyond them at the moment
-accuracy of information - should we have a list of (more) reliable math sites??
-access - this is a problem for our boards, but it seems to me that internet use is somewhat like TV and computer use. It's going to be part of many students out of school lives and those who have access will forge ahead while others languish behind.
On a personal note: I am a mother of 5 (ages 12 to 26). I taught grade 1 for 5 years, then took 13 years off to stay home with the kids and went back to teach math in 1988. I enjoyed primary, but I love teaching math to high school students.
I'm from Toronto, Ontario. We don't have exactly the same courses as in the States so it's hard to compare, but basically I teach grade 9 to OAC (that's Ontario Academic Credits for entry to university)--anything from technical math to calculus. I'm very interested in using computer software in my classes (although I'm not a computer teacher). I've used MapleV and Theorist as well as spreadsheets. (I'm trying to get the school to buy Sketchpad because I really enjoy using it, but the money isn't there yet.)
I'm involved in giving workshops to help teachers use Theorist and Maple, and I co-write our math contests for Junior and Senior divisions.
Bye for now,
Jean Vanier C.S.S, Toronto, Ontario
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