Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dr. Mega Subramaniam's Presentation at 2014 TLA Conference

Dr. Mega Subramaniam (@mmsubram) from the University of Maryland presented to librarians at the TLA conference in San Antonio. Her session, titled "Shifting Sands of School Librarianship: Math Phobic to Math Enthusiast," provided a list of suggestions for school librarians who want to assist teachers in helping students improve in mathematics. As a person who is math challenged, I chose to attend this session in order to be able to better support my teachers.

According to the latest Program for International Students (PISA) assessment, the United States is below the international average in math, reading, and science. Of course, school librarians are working every day to support teachers in improving reading skills and fluency. But there are also things we can do to support math teachers, particularly regarding the integration of technology.

As many tech savvy school librarians know, some teachers are shy about technology. Dr. Subramaniam listed the following barriers to tech integration in math:

  • Lack of access to technology
  • Lack of time for Professional Development for teachers
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Relevance of technology to math instruction (i.e., Many math teachers don't see how it can be used to facilitate instruction.) 
Dr. Subramaniam posits that "librarians can help alleviate the barriers to technology integration," by learning how to use some the following web tools and apps and helping teachers integrate them into their math lessons.

Numbers and Operations
Students can use ToonDoo, a comic strip maker, to create real world math problems. 

Working in teams, students view Graphing Stories to draw inspiration. Then they plan and create their own stories, record them with WeVideo, and share with the class. Visit Dan Meyer's blog for some more ideas on creating graphing stories. 

Another possiblity: use Google Maps to describe a relationship between distance and time for two points on a map. Students can create the time:distance ratio for traveling by foot, by car, by bus or bicycle. 
Extension: Have students rework problems with variations of speed. 

Expressions, Equations and Relationships
Students can use educreations  on the iPad to narrate steps as they work through the problems. 

Measurement and Data
Students are able to create infographics using info.gram. Dr. Subramaniam shared a student created example with us. If you need help getting started with infographics, visit Field Trip Earth for a selection of stories that incorporate non-fiction reading with data. Great cross-curricular stuff!

Dr. Subramaniam discussed several tools for geometry lessons - Floor Planner, Google Sketchup, 3DTin - which can be used to create models of rooms, spaces, or buildings.  

If you're an elementary school librarian, you might feel that some of these suggested technology applications are a little above your students' levels. That's because Dr. Subramaniam chose to base her presentation on Texas middle school math curriculum. It's still possible to use apps and web tools to help students at the elementary level. (I will write another blog post with some tips on getting started with Tellagami in the math classroom.)

Here's Dr. Subramaniam's presentation:
TLA Math Subramaniam

Many thanks to Dr. Subramaniam for making the long trek from Maryland to Texas in order to help us better serve our teachers (and for quickly responding to emails)!

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