Response to The Role of Computers in Mathematics Teaching and Learning Elizabeth Broder May 18, 2006 The role of computers in the classroom is indeed impacting our teaching and learning of mathematics. I believe the key ingredient needed to make this transition successful is adequate technology training for teachers. Technology is virtually useless the instructor can utilize this resource in a meaningful way. During my student teaching, I saw too many examples where technological resources were available, yet went unused due to teacher ignorance. The most important consideration when implementing technology must be a thorough workshop for teachers. This workshop should include an introduction to using the technology, explorations for instructors to try, and most importantly, an opportunity to brainstorm applications for the technology and share these ideas with peers. With so little teacher planning time, some lesson planning resources must be included with any new technology. In my experience, when teachers are left to develop ideas solely on their own, the technology goes unused. A second pitfall of this new technological movement is the computer literacy of our students. It is very easy for teachers to forget that all students do not have equal access to technology. Even though computers may be available through the school, some students may not know how to use them. Computer use has become second nature to so many people, it is easy to assume that all students are computer literate. The question then becomes how do you cover all the nuances of computer use while simultaneously teaching a lesson. Even with thorough instruction, students who are already familiar with the technology have an automatic advantage. Mastering the technical aspect of computer use can be very frustrating and demotivating for students. Despite what I perceive to be a poor job of educating teachers on the many uses of new technologies, computers are already changing the way math is learned. Mathematical skills are decreasing in importance. I believe this to be both positive and negative. Computers give students the freedom to think about abstract concepts without being bogged down by computations. The widespread use of calculators has eliminated the need for basic operations in everyday life - addition, division, etc. However, these operations lay the foundation for mathematical thinking and reasoning. Visualizing and mapping out solutions are quite different from concretely solving these problems. I argue teachers need to ensure technology does not hinder a systematic approach. Otherwise the technology becomes a crutch for students rather than an enrichment. I agree with the author that computer software can help to individualize instruction. As a teacher it is so difficult to fully meet the needs of 30 students during a 50 minute class period. The variety of computer programs available make it possible for each student to learn at his own level. Students requiring remediation can make use of drill and practice programs, while other students needing enrichment can make use of problem solving programs. Students who learn best independently are able to explore concepts on their own while others may prefer systematic concept instruction. Overall, I believe technology to be very useful and motivating in the classroom. As teachers we must ensure this resource is utilized effectively.