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A Framework for Teachers’ Evaluation of Digital Instructional Materials: Integrating Mathematics Teaching Practices with Technology Use in K-8 Classrooms

by Amanda Thomas & Alden J. Edson
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The study explored the evaluation of digital instructional materials (DIMs) by K-8 teachers of mathematics, positing that a useful perspective for evaluating DIMs by K-8 teachers of mathematics is considering how technology integrates with research-based practices for teaching mathematics. This paper describes the study that drew on the documentational approach of didactics and reports on analyses of teacher-generated frameworks that encompass research-informed mathematics teaching practices combined with three levels of technology integration. Analyses revealed several themes in how technology could transform effective mathematics teaching practices: (a) from one-size fits all toward differentiating for student needs, (b) from static displays toward dynamic representations, and (c) from teacher-centered toward student-centered practices. The framework and themes offer opportunities for mathematics teacher educators to support teachers in making technology integration choices that positively impact pedagogy.

Using Digital Science Notebooks to Support Elementary Student Learning: Lessons and Perspectives From a Fifth-Grade Science Classroom

by Angelina Constantine & Karl G. Jung
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The exploratory case study described in this paper examined the experiences of an elementary science teacher as he integrated iPads into his teaching. With the intent of finding a purposeful use for the district’s 1:1 iPad initiative in his science classroom, he adopted digital science notebooks for the first time. During planning sessions alongside an instructional coach, this teacher worked to harness the maximum potential of the digital notebooks’ capabilities to support his students’ science learning. Data collected from coaching conversations, observations, student notebooks, and a stimulated recall interview uncovered the ways the teacher planned for digital science notebooks and how he could use them to support student science learning. Findings show that structured page templates for students’ notebooks modified from previous work helped this teacher successfully incorporate the digital notebooks to enhance his students’ learning beyond what a traditional composition notebook can provide. Furthermore, the teacher’s perceptions of his experience with digital notebooks was overwhelmingly positive. He considered the value of digital notebooks to be superior to traditional notebooks and shared recommendations for other teachers who may also be considering using digital science notebooks for the first time.

A Case of Early Adopters of Technology in a Social Studies Classroom

by Kelley Regan, Anya S. Evmenova, Nichole P. MacVittie, Alicia Leggett, Samantha Ives, Jessica Schwartzer, Margo Mastropieri & Maria P. Rybicki-Newman
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Integrating unfamiliar technology in the classroom often requires ample technological resources and professional development. However, these resources are often not available. This case study of qualitative data combined with pretest or posttest student data illustrates how one pair of coteachers autonomously planned for and implemented a digital tool for persuasive writing into their fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms without external supports. Findings revealed the decisions teachers made to integrate the tool into their social studies curriculum and what influenced those decisions, implementation, and student outcomes. Within the context of this case study, the authors provide suggestions for teachers to improve student learning when integrating technology in the classroom. Future research is also discussed.

The Fun of Its Parts: Design and Player Reception of Educational Board Games

by Spencer P. Greenhalgh, Matthew J. Koehler & Liz Owens Boltz
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Although board, card, and other analog games can serve as useful educational technologies, little research exists to support teachers’ efforts in finding analog games that are pedagogically appropriate or likely to be well-received by their students. In this study, the authors retrieved data associated with 208 educational games from the crowdsourced website BoardGameGeek. They used this data to summarize players’ description of games into 15 themes, mechanics, and genres that can support teachers’ comparison and evaluation of analog educational games. They then analyzed how these design features influenced player reception of these games—as evidenced by game ratings on BoardGameGeek. To do this, they used two models: a hierarchical regression (features were nested within themes, mechanics, and genres categories) and a flat stepwise regression (features were all at the same level). Both analyses indicated that themes were parsimonious and significant predictors of game ratings, suggesting that the theme of an educational game may be an important consideration for teachers. The findings of this paper present helpful initial guidelines for teachers, teacher educators, and others interested in educational analog games; however, holistic evaluation of analog games and thorough consideration of their pedagogical potential are important.

Supporting Public-Facing Education for Youth: Spreading (Not Scaling) Ways to Learn Data Science With Mobile and Geospatial Technologies

by Katie Headrick Taylor, Deborah Silvis, Remi Kalir, Anthony Negron, Catherine Cramer, Adam Bell & Erin Riesland
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A project called Mobile City Science (MCS), a partnership between the University of Washington, New York Hall of Science, the Digital Youth Network, and two high schools, leverages young people’s proclivity for on-the-move digital engagement to re-place and mobilize learning through public, community settings that youth identify as being relevant to their daily lives. At its most fundamental level, MCS teaches and engages young people in new forms of data science, especially around collecting and interpreting spatial, real-time, and dynamic data. This digital STEAM curriculum has more ambitious objectives. Ultimately, the research team hopes this work disrupts an absence of youth input in neighborhood and community development processes, using the power of spatial data and visualizations that young people create about their communities as a ticket for entry into ongoing policy and planning conversations. As youth will be the ones making critical decisions about these same communities in due time, it is prudent to apprentice them into valued forms of civic participation. Moreover, as long as youth ideas go unheard, leaders and adult community stakeholders have an incomplete picture — and are missing potentially transformative solutions — regarding current issues. This example of a digital STEAM curriculum for youth to engage in data science with mobile technologies provides ideas for teachers to make instruction more public-facing.

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