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Demonstrating Math Knowledge with Tech

February 06, 2015

One of the most important skills students learn in math is being able to explain why a problem is solved a certain way rather than just memorizing or intuiting the answer. Problem sets can’t help them here – they need a chance to focus more on the process than the final result.

At Linus Pauling Middle School in Oregon, math teacher Dan Bowdoin gave his sixth graders a chance to do this creatively by combining their normal pencil-and-paper work with digital technology. First, he had his 19 math peer tutors create one-step equation “how-to” videos for students with the app Explain Everything. The sixth grade students watched them, and worked through the problems with the tutors. The students then recorded their own explanations using Explain Everything. 

To finish the lesson, students used the Book Creator app on their iPads to put all of this together in an iBook. Then they added shorter captions and explanations to the pictures of their notes and example problems, and some color and decoration to make the books their own. The sixth graders not only ended with a thorough understanding of the basics of equations (and a good foundation for pre-Algebra!), but also enjoyed a chance to create something unique and share it with the class.