Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Practice Using Online Math Tools

Many of you have been asking for on-line resources that could help prepare students to use PARCC's technology enhanced items.  Before now, I had not seen a website that offered a comprehensive list of resources.  Ohio, another state in the PARCC consortium, has created a Pearltree that organizes the resources by technology tool.  This is one of the best systematic lists of interactive online activities that I have found. 

Although the website above includes both math and literacy tools, the math tools have proven harder for the students to use.  When looking at the PARCC Lessons Learned and listening to teachers reflect on the field test, the equation editor stuck out as a particularly difficult tool.  Online calculators and rulers look like calculators and rulers that they've used in the classroom . But for many students, the equation editor might as well be written in a foreign language. 

According to DESE's Field Test Update, almost half of students (46%) reported a technology problem during the math test, compared to 31% in ELA.  Although the equation editor is a good place to start, students need to be practicing with all of these online tools.  Students might be savvy when it comes to Candy Crush or even code, but the PARCC technology may not be intuitive.  The purpose of the PARCC assessment is not to judge technological skills, but rather to gauge their subject specific knowledge.  Students must practice using the technology to remove this barrier. 

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