Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers

What if any is the role of the teacher in computer aided learning?

This discussion is part of a collection:Useful Tech Tools

I'm asking this as a developer who has been trying to create " elementary mathlets" (interactive browser apps that model and illustrate concepts and methods from the elementary math curriculum.) My mental model of how these would be used always included a "teacher". What I imagined was students individually or in groups of two or three interacting with my mathlets with periodic interaction of a teacher to verify that the students are making progress and in particular to give the students a chance to articulate their understanding of the concepts involved. I feel this last step is essential to the process of "understanding". My wife who is a retired teacher and still subs warns me that in practice the computer aided lessons are generally expected to be essentially self-contained and that the interaction is almost solely with the application rather than a teacher. Can you tell me whether this is true and more generally how teachers use technology in the classroom?

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The concept of these mathlets sounds very interesting. I think the culture of our classrooms is constantly changing with regards to the technology available and the ways in which individual teachers implement it. I have taught in a school that used a computer program for remediation and it did send teachers a report based on the skill feedback to let them know when it was time to sit and work with individual students.

Thanks for the comment. My mathlets can be found at www.commoncoremathlets.com. (Everything on my site is completely free in every sense of the word.) I work on them in my spare time. I'm currently working on mathlets to explain the concept of function by modeling them as input/output machines that can be "connected" (composed) to make new machines. I want to use these to explain the concept of "variable" and "equation." Among other things I want to use these to explain the concept of "inverse" and the rule for inverting a composite as a way of understanding the concept of equation and strategies for solving equations (e.g. why in solving an equation like 3X+2 = 8 you first subtract and then divide rather than v.v.)

So far I have mathlets on place value, addition properties and algorithm, subtraction, multiplication, fractions etc. The goal for these applications is no so much for remediation or practice but to deepen understanding of math concepts by presenting observable models of the concepts in the way that physical manipulatives are sometimes used. I love physical manipulatives but some concepts are difficult and/or expensive to model physically. Also I have heard that teachers are sometimes reluctant to use physical manipulatives because they are easily subverted for purposes other than the intended lesson. The point is that I think of these mathlets as replacements for physical manipulatives rather than as replacements for the teacher. I would be very grateful for comments on the general idea of virtual manipulatives and suggestions for apps and ways of presenting them that would make them easier to integrate into a classroom setting.