Learning, Math, Motivation, Uncategorized

Exploration in Mathematics- Allowing Explorers to Flourish

Exploration by it’s very nature is a step into the unknown.  Armed with no map, no set of steps, no set path, the explorer embraces the excitement of discovery with a willingness to get lost in the adventure.  Imagine for a moment exploration that was planned, with every destination known, every step predetermined…it would not be as much fun, it would not belong to the explorer, and it would not be exploration.

Mathematics is a place where exploration is not only possible…it is necessary.  Through exploration and play we can breath life into the learning of mathematics, as we open up opportunities for imagination, creativity  curiosity and wonderment.   These qualities can carry the mathematics beyond the textbook, the worksheet, the drill and practice.  They can make mathematics come alive.  This exploration needs to belong to the explorer and the explorer in every learner needs to be given opportunities to discover and create in mathematics.  There may be  times when we would want to give students the map with the route laid out and support them on reaching the destination but there should also be times where students face a problem or situation and need to reason your way to the other side, without the road map.   In those times it becomes about finding their own way, embracing the different but equally valid paths/solutions of others, and truly discovering not only the science of mathematics but it’s artistry and creativity as well.  This exploration does not need to happen in isolation.  Explorers can join resources and thinking power to help navigate the journey and share in the excitement of discovery.

In this video Dan Meyer‘s describes the problems facing mathematics education when we take all of the exploration out of the subject.

1. Lack of initiative- Translation- I don’t want to do it!

2. Lack of Perseverance- Translation- It’s too hard!  I give up!

3. Lack of Retention- Translation- I don’t know.  Blank look.

4. Aversion to word problems- Translation- Can I just have a sheet of numbers.

5. Eagerness for a formula- Translation- Can you just show me how to do it?

By purposely and deliberately creating an environment where mathematics exploration and discovery flourish we can harness the inner mathematics explorer in our students.

 

Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.  Frank Borman

Instructional Leadership, Learning, Teaching and Instruction, Technology, Uncategorized

The Role of the Instructional Leader in Technology Integration

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kristinmarshall/4842064949

Part 3- Gaining an Understanding

Technology use should live within instruction and learning. Since instruction and learning are a responsibility of school administrators so too is the integration of technology. Today’s leaders must strive to initiate, promote, and support the effective use of technology in the educational environments by creating and supporting opportunities for teachers to learn with, about, and from technology. In this way they can create and support opportunities for learning with, about, and from technology for students.

Julia Kara-Soteriou (2009) suggests that instructional leaders can jump into this learning by taking the initiative for their own learning in three key ways.

  1. Gain an Understanding
  2. Embrace and Model Technology
  3. Actively Demonstrate Leadership

I believe that those three components can provide leaders with the “on ramp” to creating an environment that is technology rich and more importantly learning rich.

In Gaining an Understanding leaders are required to “step into the technology pool” with a willingness to explore. Exploration can range from opening the channels of communication with colleagues about technology; to actively pursuing professional development opportunities; to joining a web-based Professional Learning Network (PLN). Opportunities to use technology for learning are everywhere and leaders need to grab those opportunities with the mindset of educators and learners. This proactive learning should be driven by the needs and interests of the leader, their staff and their students. Though gaining an understanding leaders are able to actively engage in conversations and share their own experiences. This can inspire others to begin their own journeys of understanding.

Within a plethora of possibilities for exploration lies the opportunity for leaders to choose their own adventure, have fun and learn. From adventures in trying new hardware (iPads, computers, Smart Phones, Smart Boards, Document Cameras, digital photography etc.) to adventures in trying software (YouTube, Twitter, Blogging, Outlook Calendars, Excel, Internal Portal Systems, Google Documents, Flickr etc.) the opportunities to harness and share these experiences in learning are plentiful. What is necessary in this exploration is for instructional leaders to gain an understanding of how the digital tool or technology works AND an understanding of how those tools can support, enhance and transform learning for teachers and students. Instructional leadership in technology grows from personal experiences and play.

Instructional leaders should be pioneers in learning. They are people who are willing to step out into the unknown, experiment and actively pursue learning. They also possess the skills that inspire others to follow them in learning. Through a willingness to take risks and share their own learning, leaders create a space where other feel safe to do the same. An instructional leader with an understanding of technology can make a significant difference in inspiring technology integration in schools.

Kara-Soteriou, J. (2009). Promoting technology integration through the leadership of school administrators. New England Reading Association Journal. 91-95.