The potential to use mathematics software to enhance student thinking and development is discussed and a taxonomy of software categories is outlined in this paper. Briefly, there are five categories of tool-based mathematics software that can be used fruitfully in a mathematics curriculum: (a) review and practice, (b) general, (c) specific, (d) environment, and (e) communication. A description of the affordances and constraints of the five types of software and how each facilitates different aspects of student learning clarifies the ways in which diverse off-the-shelf offerings can be used to address the goals of mathematics instruction, from building basic skills to exploring mathematical applications in the real world.
Social Studies Education
The purpose of this study was to compare the use of WebQuests with traditional instruction. Specifically, the study examined the end-of-unit exam scores for students who completed a WebQuest on the Texas Revolution and those students completing a poster activity. Both of the instructional activities were implemented as additional enhancement to close the unit. Results indicated that the control group, or those students completing the poster activity, scored higher on the end-of-unit exam than did the experimental group, or those students completing the WebQuest activity. A discussion of the possible reasons for this difference, practical implications of study and using WebQuests in the classroom, and directions for future research are included.
As beginning teachers experience and process new information during their initial acts of teaching, reflection is an inherent part of the process. The following study was designed to explore technology as a tool for reflection by introducing first-year teachers to three technology tools designed to elicit and encourage their reflections on teaching: (a) electronic portfolios, (b) online discussion, and (c) videotaping teaching. Results indicate that the first-year teachers in this study found value in each of the tools, with videotaping teaching encouraging the most meaningful reflection on their teaching practice. Overall, the technology tools provided an avenue for reflection on teaching and a structure for novices to think and talk about their work.
The Teachers Infusing Technology in Urban Schools project (TITUS) at the University of Illinois at Chicago is developing an approach for addressing the shortage of opportunities for teacher candidates to experience technology being used effectively in high-need urban schools in the course of their field experiences. Beyond recruiting mentor teachers who are already adept at teaching with technology, our work has involved developing communities of experienced teachers within urban schools – prospective mentors for preservice candidates – whom we support in learning to teach with technology. In our first year of intensive work with these groups of potential mentors, we have found a number of assumptions and patterns of interaction that can present problems for infusing technology, and we have explored a number of strategies for addressing them. These challenges often involve a tradeoff between different approaches to professional development. Some of these challenges are presented in the paper, followed by examples of how we have addressed them in our project.
Three teacher education programs were studied to explore the process of integrating computer technology into the curriculum. The focus of this study was to define the stages that schools, colleges, and departments of education experienced as faculty and students moved from lower to higher levels of computer technology use and integration. Data were gathered at the participating sites from three sources: teacher education faculty members, key informants, and focus groups. In-depth interviews were conducted with the key informants and with focus groups (administrator, key informant, faculty member(s), computer technology support person, and student). The gathered data were used to answer the research question: What are the defining characteristics of the stages of development that departments of education experience as they infuse computer technology into the teacher education curriculum? The findings of this research resulted in the emergence of a Five-Stage Model for computer technology integration into teacher education programs: pre-integration, transition, development, expansion, and system-wide integration.