The power of technology in the math classroom

Thoughtful tech can transform math instruction. Here's why—and how.

By Amplify Staff | April 3, 2023

You might say math and tech go hand in hand. And these days, of course, kids and tech go literally hand in hand. So it makes sense that using digital tools in the math classroom can help teachers reach students, and teach the math content they need to learn. But truly integrating technology into math instruction is not just a matter of adding random gadgets and gizmos. We need to do more—especially if we want to leverage the power of math technology to engage all students.

Why integrate technology into the math classroom

Integrating technology into instruction delivers numerous benefits in the classroom–perhaps especially in the math classroom.

Numerous studies suggest that technology can support student learning in the math classroom. This tech might take the form of graphic calculators, digital manipulatives, or learning software. In general, such tools have been shown to help students improve both their understanding of math concepts and their performance on tests.

Thoughtful tech has these effects in part because it can make math more engaging. Students are generally more excited to dive into a visually appealing and interactive program than a black-and-white math textbook.

Integrating technology into a math classroom also means:

  • Personalized learning: Students can work at their own pace and get tailored guidance and feedback.
  • Collaboration: Students can work together regardless of their physical location.
  • Real-world applications: Technology can simulate real-world scenarios that require mathematical reasoning and critical thinking skills.
  • Saving teachers time: Technology helps teachers assess learning more effectively, providing real-time feedback and helping them identify where students need support.
  • Preparing students for the future: After all, most jobs require the use of technology!

How to integrate technology into the math classroom

The most effective technology approaches in the math classroom are active, not passive. They also invite deep thinking and productive struggle rather than speed and rote memorization.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) includes this guidance in its Principles to Action:

“An excellent mathematics program integrates the use of mathematical tools and technology as essential resources to help students learn and make sense of mathematical ideas, reason mathematically, and communicate their mathematical thinking.”

The NCTM recommends that teachers: “incorporate mathematical tools and technology as an everyday part of the mathematics classroom, recognizing that students should experience ‘mathematical action technologies’ and physical or virtual manipulatives to explore important mathematics.”

Here are just a few approaches that enhance engagement:

  1. Use interactive whiteboards or projectors: You can display math problems and solutions, diagrams, graphs, and simulations, allowing students to interact with and manipulate visual representations of math concepts.
  2. Use graphing calculators and virtual manipulatives: They can help students visualize and solve complex math problems, and prepare them for more advanced mathematical concepts.
  3. Use gamification techniques: Can make math more engaging and fun for students.
  4. Use online collaboration tools: These tools can help students work together on math problems and projects, even when they are not in the same physical location.
  5. Use select social media and other online platforms: To create math communities where students can collaborate, share resources, and ask questions.
  6. Use math software and apps: These programs can help students practice math, solve problems, and visualize math concepts in 3D or interactive models.

How Desmos Math 6–A1 delivers

Desmos Math 6–A1 is just that kind of program. It provides dynamic and interactive digital math learning experiences, alongside flexible and creative print activities. Its teacher dashboard is designed to encourage classroom discussion and collaboration. It invites students to explore a variety of approaches—and invites teachers to celebrate and develop interesting thinking in their classrooms.

The dashboard also shows teachers actionable formative assessment data for each student and the entire class, and allows them to leave written feedback for students in their lessons.

And we know it works. Teachers and students in our pilot program said that students learned more with Desmos Math 6–A1 than with their prior program. (See case studies in a large midwestern school district and in Naugatuck Public Schools.)

What’s more, Desmos Math 6–8 has earned perfect scores and an all-green rating from EdReports. This is a powerful affirmation not only of our program, but also of high-quality instructional materials, student-centered instruction, and thoughtful technology in the math classroom.

Mathematics Problem-based learning

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