A blog about teaching and learning in a maths classroom.

Asking Yr 9 about laptops

Thursday, 23 July 2009 | 8 Comments

As part of the last lesson with my Year 9 class in Term 2, I asked them to write me an email expressing their thoughts about getting their own laptop in Term 3.

I tried to prompt their thinking with a couple of fairly generic questions, e.g. how do you think a laptop should be used in Maths? Before getting them to answer, I showed them my teacher laptop and some of the software on the machines.

Here are some of the responses (spelling/grammar as received):

  • i think we should play maths games and use math programs with these laptops and sometimes draw things and stuff
  • I think we should do all our Math work on them.
  • want msn and no books for maths
  • i dont get this, why are we having laptops if we might not even be using them in all our clasess??..... btw do we still have to bring our calculators and books and pen?
  • we should use stuff on the internet like math games and work sheets we could also write our notes on them we could do EVERY thing on them i dont think it will be different cause we will just be using tech instead of paper and i think it will help us more in the tests and understand it a bit more
  • I strongly suggest that you talk to the big boss and tell him/her to allow Windows Live Messenger to be installed on our computers :D. I also think that these laptops are very good 😊. I think that this will take the old ways of learning maths to the extreme and it will be the greatest acheivement known to the modern human being since the dawn of time. It will take our old ways of learning to a new beyond and people will appricate it greatly.
  • i think we should use the laptops for drawing maths stuff, and excercises but only fun stuff we should also be allowed to install msn
  • i reakon in maths we should use the laptops every lesson because it would get confusin if we had to bring our books aswell and in maths we would be able to measure up stuff and we wouldnt even need a calculator so that makes it so u dont have to hand them out and that sometimes we can talk to each other on msn
  • I think these laptops should be used for fun things that will help us with our tests. Something fun that will make us remember everything!
  • i think cos we are getting laptops we can throw away our nasty school books. whats the point of having a school laptop if we dont use them more then books SAVE THE TREES DUDE !
  • so we have to get a laptop? if so why do we have to bring it everyday when we might not even use it ?
  • although these laptops are coming we should not do every lesson with them but every 2 or 3. if we did every lesson it would be mind boggeling.

Obviously, they’d like MSN Messenger installed. Beyond that, generally I don’t get the sense that my students are particularly savvy when it comes to using technology for education. BTW, I did answer some of their questions and clear up some of their expectations (e.g. bringing books).

Have you asked your student’s about their expectations?

Posted in • TechnologyDigital Education RevolutionLaptops 4 Learning | Short URL:


Elaine Talbert on  23 July 09  at  06:52 AM #
Thanks for the tweet about this work. These insightful comments by your students will be useful for other teachers. It will be great if others share student expectations in this way. Elaine
Stu on  23 July 09  at  09:23 AM #
What a great activity for the students Simon! We really should be extracting and considering the thoughts and concerns of our students. You can really see that the perceived tech-savvy nature of students is really only surface-level. Let your teachers know this! Their role is very important in making all of this work. Love the exaggeration by kids - "greatest achievement since the dawn of time". LOL. Everybody knows that home-delivered pizza already has that title.


Simon Job on  23 July 09  at  10:50 AM #
"greatest achievement since the dawn of time" - yeah, funny kid.
Jeff Stanger on  23 July 09  at  03:06 PM #
Thanks for sharing this. I'm a science teacher and I asked my year 9 students for their ideas too. They said pretty much the same things. I asked them, how many of you want to do all your work on laptops? Half the class said yes. So, there is clearly no one solution. I'm going to have to be flexible and cater for all their learning styles and preferences. I can't see us getting extra time off class to do all the extra work to prepare? May I suggest that we share our ideas on [url=][/url] Cheers, Jeff


Simon Job on  25 July 09  at  03:01 AM #
Jeff, Time is going to be the biggest restraint to developing good resources. It is good that "Curriculum Support": have released some resources, but as I suspected, there's just not enough there. I see Yr 9 for seven 1 hour sessions a fortnight - that's a lot of resources required. Sharing is a good idea, and that site is one avenue, but I really think the DET should be driving the sharing and making the space available. For Maths teachers there are already a couple of "wikis": available. As I said previously, bq. Imagine if every Year 9 Maths teacher in NSW was asked to create one resource for use on the DER laptops – we’d have enough stuff to cover a year’s worth of classes many times over. "Teach the Teachers":
Jeff Stanger on  25 July 09  at  06:26 AM #
Hi Simon, I agree that it would be great if the DET encouraged sharing. This hasn't happened though unfortunately. I have been told that was part of the original idea with TALE. The wiki at [url=][/url] was actually created by a number of DET school computer coordinators because they recongnised the same problem that we are not sharing. I did suggest to a person in a position to do something about it recently that the institute of teachers could provide an incentive for teachers to share by giving professional development points to accredited teachers who share resources. These resources would need to pass a quality test by a moderator before they are made available online. I can't see teachers doing a lot of sharing unless there is a reward for doing so. Cheers, Jeff


Simon Job on  25 July 09  at  06:37 AM #
Thanks for clarifying Jeff. On the ALE site, "Maths": is empty :( Another problem with sharing, is uploading onto the various Wikis. There's now three I could add resources to. Probably why I'll stick uploading things to this site.
Jeff Stanger on  25 July 09  at  06:43 AM #
Yeah it is a shame it is not centralised. A one stop shop for resources is what is really needed I agree. Any DET or BOS people reading this? Can we do something about this? Cheers, Jeff

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Simon Job — eleventh year of teaching maths in a public high school in Western Sydney, Australia.
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