Rethinking Touchscreens


Bacterial colonies on a computer keyboard.

The local school district does not include any touchscreen PC’s on its approved technology list.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been considering the possibility of including them due to the habits of incoming kindergarteners.

After seeing how well the students have done with creating regular polygons with a mouse, I’m not sure at this point that it’s necessary.  If anything, I think that they just need more real estate on the monitors, or dual monitors.

I’ve been wanting my math students to be able to use a stylus with Khan Academy, but the old tech whiteboards and dry erase markers work just fine.

Besides that, I’ve always believed that the hardware and software are not the point of technology education. It’s the thinking.

I recently substituted for a teacher at another school who was using their Dell wireless projector to involve the students in the daily calendar activities.  The technology was slow and tricky, so I scrapped the tech and used the whiteboard for a fast and easy mini-lesson on skip counting.  The technology is not the point. It’s the thinking.

Math Brain Glitches Illustrated


OK, here are a few examples from the minds of some very brainy math students working way above grade level:

Example 1: Move on before you finish the problem


Example 2: You got WHAT when you subtracted?


Example 3:  20% the same as /20?


Example 4: Answer only part of a 2-part question.


Example 5: Are you sure that’s lowest terms?


Example 6:  We love equivalent fractions.mathglitches4

I keep sayin’, “Check your answers to the easiest problems. Those are the ones you’re going to miss.”



Math Brain Glitches

Last week my advanced math students completed another unit assessment.  These kids are amazing, but every one of them got some answers incorrect because of brain glitches.  There’s no reason why just about every one of the students couldn’t  have gotten all of the answers correct.

I’m going to ask for their tests back, scan their answer sheets, and snip out the ones they missed.  I’ll upload them here and show you what I mean.  Should be pretty interesting.

Banish the Bane of Bulletin Boards

BB’s: one of my least favorite teacher responsibilities.

I just never kept up with them, they get ripped and faded, and at the end of the year there’s a million staples that have to be pulled out.

So the wish list now includes four large panel LCD displays that would replace the bb’s with revolving or static images of lesson examples, instructions, student work, messages, etc.

Market-driven Education

We’ve got to realize that the real “movers and shakers” in education are not the innovators in the classrooms, but the players in the board rooms.

If there’s millions to be made by adoption of new materials and methods,  you can bet they will be.

Why else would a textbook on CD cost as much as a hardcover textbook?

Adolescent Brain Development

In order to most effectively teach the students in my advanced math class, I need to have a better understanding of adolescent brain development.

These students are not just ahead of their peers as far as math skills go. It is possible that the massive rewiring and efficiency upgrade their brains are experiencing is also ahead of schedule compared to other students their age.


Time-lapse movies of brain development can be found here.