Raise Your Hand if You're Ready to Go Digital!

raise your hand if you're ready to go digital

“Math requires pencil and paper.”


“I am the least techy math teacher there has ever been.”


“I am not hopping on this digital trend.”


These are all comments made frequently by yours truly.  Enter Covid-19.  On a dime, like many of you, I was thrown into the world of Remote Learning with zero time to prepare.  We started off the crazy journey using Moodle.  Then just when I got the hang of that, they switched us over to Google Classroom.  Truly, technology is not my “thing.”  However, I adapted, as teachers must, and spent the remaining months of school making videos and communicating through video chats and emails.


First, let me explain why I was so opposed to digital learning in pre-Covid times.  (That’s definitely a thing now, right?).  There is plenty of brain-based research out there that demonstrates a correlation between math success and pencil-and-paper learning.  The process of writing out steps helps solidify knowledge for students.

See this article at edutopia.org if you’re interested in researching this further.

digital learning v pencil and paper

I am pro pencil-and-paper for brain-based research reasons.  Also, I’m just not that techy so I have never made it a priority.  I know it’s a bit ironic considering I teach math, love science, and run my own blog and online business.  However, it’s true.  When it’s math time I’m all about my Bic 0.9 lead mechanical pencil… or, of course, a dry erase marker.


And then there’s the educational pendulum that drives me absolutely crazy.  I, personally, consistently live in the middle.  The pendulum swings way too far in either direction for me.  I’m not going to buy into 1-to-1 math tech initiatives the same way I’m not for 100% sticking to the textbook with notes and practice.  I believe in a balanced approach to teaching mathematics – which includes using a variety of methods and materials.


Wait, isn’t this a post about going digital?


YUP!  Covid-19 made me do it.  However, I knew from the start that I wanted to be really deliberate about how I ventured down the technology path.


no going tech just to go tech

Avoid activities with too much “fluff.”  How can we use technology in a meaningful way that helps students practice and utilize math skills while demonstrating mastery?  Ensure that the focus of the activity remains on the math skills itself.


stick to what we know and love

I believe strongly that the activities I was using with my students in the classroom were working really well.  Students were engaged and demonstrating competency.  I didn’t want to venture too far from the things I already used with confidence.


continue to use paper and pencil as a tool

I need activities where I can see my students work, and therefore, their mathematical thinking.  Even when remote, it’s important to continue to “see” the steps one way or another.


Alas, Digital Scavenger Hunts were born!  Digital Scavenger Hunts are based on the super popular Scavenger Hunts.  They share the premise that one answer leads to the next problem and that answers leads to the next and so on.  Digital Scavenger Hunts are created in Google Sheets and feature a drag-and-drop setup.  Students follow the path from start to finish to complete the scavenger hunt.  There’s also a slide included where students can type their work out (yuck) or upload a photo of their handwritten steps.  These activities are self-checking (as there is only one correct order).  And it’s awesome for teachers because we can still see their thinking and identify any misconceptions.  Win-win!


There’s a quick little YouTube video here that demonstrates how the activity works.

Click here to learn more about Digital Scavenger Hunts.


So after years of kicking and screaming to avoid technology, I am ready to go digital!  As long as I’m doing so in a meaningful way, with proven resources, and my students are still using pencil-and-paper to promote brain-based learning, I'm ready!

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