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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Using Wolfram Alpha in Math Class

Yesterday we were studying Solving Systems of Equations using Elimination Method with my Pure Math 20's. We had solved a few problems together on the board. Then I said, " I want to show you Wolfram Alpha". So, I walked over to my computer, went to Wolfram Alpha and typed in the same 2 equations we had just solved. Voila!!! Here is what Wolfram Alpha spit out at us.

In less than 2 seconds we had the answer to the question. I then asked my students, "How could you use Wolfram Alpha to help you with your homework?". They thought about it for a second. One student said, "Well I can just type every question into Wolfram Alpha and get the answer. My homework would be done in 5 minutes!!" I reminded the students that Wolfram Alpha ONLY gives the answer. It DOES NOT show us all of the work to arrive at the solution.

I then talked to my students about how Wolfram Alpha let's me ask them "different" questions. Things like, "Explain what the solution (-1, 4) means in this problem." This is a much deeper question and shows their understanding of the problem.

I informed the students that I recently read that every high school student in Denmark was going to be allowed to use a computer with Internet access on ALL of their final exams. This really got the discussion going!!! We talked about how their would be NO multiple choice questions. The students would have the ability to "collaborate" during an exam. Wow!!! Different way of thinking about education.

I asked my students to imagine what it would be like if every one of them had a laptop for every class at school and how that would change the way they learned. They really started to get excited.

I informed my students that I am thinking of wheeling a cart of laptops into class and turning them loose on the students. I also informed them that I am thinking of giving them a unit exam where they all have computers and Internet access. One student said,"Please do not do that. We will have to think a lot harder on an exam like that!". She really gets it.

Yesterday's discussion really opened the doors in my mind and in my students minds about how the world we know could be very different.

Stay tuned to find out what happens!!!

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting.

    Every student at my school 7th grade or higher has a laptop for their use. We don't use them to take tests or anything but they really help a lot.