A blog about teaching and learning in a maths classroom.

Sunday, 18 October 2009 | 6 Comments

A Digital Education Revolution (DER) laptop in the hands of all Year 9 students changes everything… or does it?

The laptops include Microsoft Math which includes a CAS, that is, every Year 9 student can now get the computer to solve equations and simplify algebraic expressions. (More on the functionality of MS Maths in this review at squareCircleZ)

Now, I have no problem giving students tools like this – it is “real-world”, that is, an engineer doesn’t build a bridge without computer assistance. My question today is “how do I integrate it effectively”?

Year 9 are looking at expansion and factorisation of algebraic expressions the first week back, and I fired up MS Maths to see what it could do:

So, Microsoft Math solves the problems that many students at my school would say is that hardest thing they do in Mathematics in Years 7-9.

There are couple of ways I could deal with this:

- Don’t tell the students that their laptops can solve these problems.
- After having learnt how to do these types of problems the more traditional way, show them how the computer does it – and introduce some higher-order problems that previously may not have been achievable by these students and allow them to solve with the traditional way or a computer.

- Show them that the computer can do it from the start and see what happens.

In the end, though, the School Certificate exam is still paper-based without netbooks or graphics calculators.

Are there other options? What are your thoughts?

Posted in • How to • Lesson Idea • Algebra • Software • Microsoft Maths • Technology • Digital Education Revolution • Laptops 4 Learning | Short URL: http://mths.co/1691

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

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