Academic journal article Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom

I Can Locate It! Teaching Location with the Assistance of Digital Technologies

Academic journal article Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom

I Can Locate It! Teaching Location with the Assistance of Digital Technologies

Article excerpt

How can we effectively use fitness trackers, robotic toys and handheld mobile devices to teach the outcome ACMMG023, 'Give and follow directions to familiar locations' to Year 1 students? This article will provide you with specific examples that encompass current pedagogy and practice to discuss the benefits of using mobile devices within a primary mathematics classroom.

The Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) views technology as an essential component in the teaching and learning of mathematics (AMTE, 2006). In a world where digital technologies drive what we do and how we live, it is important to remember that it is not the technology itself that transforms our learning environment, rather its potential to enhance existing classroom practices. For mobile devices to play a significant role in our learning environment, we as educators, need to think explicitly about why we are using the digital technology and how it is going to enrich the students' learning experiences (The Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers, 2014). Therefore, it is fair to say that as educators we have a duty of care to ensure that we are providing quality experiences for our students, which encompass digital technology and its benefits to education (AMTE, 2006; Attard & Northcote, 2011; Day, 2014). However, this in itself is not an easy task to accomplish with the exhaustive range of apps, devices and accessories available for educational use.

Technology has the potential to push education exponentially, where the students are able to connect curriculum content to local and global real-world experiences (Day, 2014). The current generation of students has technology embedded into their everyday experiences. (Henry, 2015; Samuelsson, 2007, as cited in Attard & Northcote, 2011). Therefore, if technology is such an integral part of our lives, how can we ensure that this is reflected in our teaching and learning environments?

Fitness trackers

Utilising fitness trackers in the teaching and learning of mathematics allows for learning to occur through real-world experiences. The use of fitness trackers in the classroom allows the students to see the potential for mathematics in everyday experiences and the use of mathematics to enhance our quality of life (Attard & Northcote, 2011). Attard (2014) states that students are engaged through learning that is contextual and relevant and when technology is used to complement the learning that is taking place. In other words, technology is used to complete tasks that were not accessible to students previously, therefore bringing the learning to life through its use.

With more than half of Australia's population utilising a fitness tracker daily (Ricco, 2016), using this device in the classroom would be highly motivating to students due to its current status in society. Besides thier health benefits, fitness trackers have the potential to calculate, measure and record statistics, location and measurements for use within the classroom, as shown in Figure 1.

The data provided by fitness trackers offer students the opportunity to engage in tasks that require the implementation of the Proficiency Strands of the F--10 Australian Curriculum: Mathematics; understanding, fluency, problem-solving and reasoning, whilst refining their current level of knowledge and understandings (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2015; Guerrero, 2014). An example of this can be seen through the potential for this data to be used with Year 1 students to record their movements within the playground (ACMMG023) and the number of steps taken (ACMNA012, ACMNA013) during a 30-minute period (ACMMG020). The students can then take this data back to the classroom where they can interpret, discuss, compare and analyse the data (ACMSP263).

This provides students with a meaningful and contextual learning experience, whilst developing a student's personal and social capabilities (ACARA, 2015). …

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