Technology to Support Expression of Meaning

Presenters from six technology-rich projects explore how they are using new representations, activities, and practices to help learners become more fluent in expressing their thinking.

Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 1:45pm to 3:45pm
PI-organized Discussion

Given technology that enables teachers and learners to express mathematics and science in quite new ways—relative to textbooks and conventional classroom talk—what sorts of representations, activities, and practices provide the necessary structure to guide and develop what students can “say” and “do” so that they develop ways to express themselves more powerfully and meaningfully?

Presenters from six DR K–12 projects, each involved in mathematics or science teaching and learning, describe their approaches:

In the Dynabook project, preservice teachers navigate from video cases of struggling mathematics students to an exercise where they express dialogic scripts that imagine a teacher successfully interacting with a struggling student. The arc of activities in between this beginning and end allows for non-linear branching among different activities that develop preservice teachers’ understanding of mathematics, students’ misconceptions and development, and understanding of pedagogical use of technology.

In the Data Games project, students play simple online computer games that stream game data into a surrounding, browser-based data analysis environment. They analyze the data to create a data model with which they can figure out how to improve their game-playing strategy. A Data Games activity includes movies for the teacher and for students, online worksheets and homework assignments, teacher notes, and a learning analytics assessment module.

In the Digital Media Production project, students and teachers leave their classic roles to join forces as media producers. The basic activity of making a tutorial video grows in stages, and the arcs of activities lead to new form a learning community in the classroom.

In the INK-12 project, students and teachers create and share “digital ink” inscriptions—handwritten sketches, graphs, notes, etc.—via a tablet-based classroom interaction system. Students use the inscriptions, along with other tools such as virtual tiles that snap together, to create explanations of their reasoning, e.g., showing why adding two odd numbers results in an even number. Such explanations can be dynamic and/or static, as students and teachers use the tablet pen and the tools to create both animations and drawings.

In the Dynamic Number project, students are able to build and explore accurate models of any decimal or fraction with The Geometer’s Sketchpad, giving them the opportunity to engage in personal investigations that would otherwise be impossible to conduct. Students are encouraged to take the freedom afforded to them by these software tools to create number challenges and puzzles for each other. These challenges are often more difficult and interesting than those that would be posed by a curriculum author.

The Leonardo project combines an interactive science notebook and intelligent tutor to support exploration of grades 4–5 science concepts via physical and virtual laboratory investigations. Student work is recorded in an iPad-based notebook that combines student-generated text, drawings, and photographs, with interactive graphic elements. Students, for example, create and annotate animations that explain particular scientific phenomena.

In each of these projects, learners have access to new modes of expression. What are the new kinds of expression being targeted? How do activities provide a context for this expression? How do arcs of activities seek to develop learners’ fluency in expressing meaning using new technology and digital media? Based on these initial projects and questions, presenters aim to engage the audience in discussion about what happens—both in designing curricula and in engaging with it in the classroom—when we put learners’ “expressivity” in the center, using technology and media to open up new possibilities for how learners can express meaning and become more fluent in expressing meaning in mathematics and science.