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Using Technology to Teach Number and Algebra

Using Technology to Teach Number and Algebra

Order Instructions:

After reading Chapters 15-18 from Kiss My Math (McKellar, 2009) and Chapter 23 from Elementary and
Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally (Van de Walle et al., 2013), discuss the following:

  • Working with very large and very small numbers includes moving among numerical representations and
    understanding how big or small the numbers really are. What might you do with students to help them

visualize how big or small a number is?

  • Choose one resource from the online resources listed on pages 288 and 488 of the Van de Walle et al.
    (2013) text. How might this technology be used to develop number and algebraic sense?


Using Technology to Teach Number and Algebra

Handling of figures cannot be avoided in our daily life. The numbers and figures that we handle
are quantifiable. However, there are others that go beyond imagination and almost become
factious in the student’s mind. These numbers tend to be too large or too small for an average
student at early grades to comprehend. For instance, a situation where a student is given the facts
like the world’s population (which is approximately 7 billion) or the number of stars in a Milky
Way (about 300 billion). Either, a small number of the diameter of a cell can be wearisome to
quantify without breaking down the figure into the comprehendible amount. McKellar, (2009).
This can only be made possible by the use of technological equipment that evolves alongside the
subject of mathematics. Research has further reinforced this fact, stating that human beings get
dreadful while dealing with such extremities. Additionally, it is said that numbers lose their
absolute meaning upon getting beyond certain limits.

To break down the concept into understandable level among learners, there is a need to
make them conceptualize various mathematical realities. To visualize on this concept, I would
use an example of exponentials. I would develop an example of forwarding a message. For

instance, if I forward a message to five students in a day, who again forward the same message to
reach five other people in the next day, this would make 25 on the second day. The last five can
do the same on the third day, and the pattern continues on and on. This would be an approach to
help students conceptualize the number of messages at the end of the week. The knowledge of
exponents and how to apply it technologically, therefore, stands as the last solution. However,
making the large numbers into smaller ones, that is, starting from one week narrowing down to
one day, would only worsen the situation. (Van, Karp & Bay-Williams, 2013).

Scientific calculator stands out among the most used technology in handling math
problems, especially the exponents. When using a scientific calculator, you will only need to key
in the base and the exponent to arrive at an answer: a figure that is rational and comprehensible.
This can be used for both positive and negative integers. According to Van et al. (2013), if
expressed in a simpler scientific notation, a figure gets clear in the student’s mind. This boosts
the morale of students while tackling more complex arithmetic operations. Strategic calculators
help students to appreciate the algebraic, geometric as well as numeric role while dealing with
very small or large numbers. Overall, it is apparent that the use of a calculator is of great
importance among students and teachers while trying to comprehend algebra.



McKellar, D. (2009). Kiss my math (1st ed.). New York, NY: Penguin Group.
Van de Walle, J. A., Karp, K. S. & Bay-Williams, J. M. (2013). Elementary and middle
school mathematics: Teaching developmentally (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

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