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Technology can be used to reinvigorate math instruction

As the United States works to emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, teachers are looking for ways to reinvigorate instruction and help young students develop the necessary 21st century math skills.

Gone are the days of students memorizing formulas and plugging numbers into an equation. Along with the introduction of the Common core state standards has come an emphasis on problem solving, and educators must adopt different math teaching strategies in order to help their students be successful in the classroom and in life.

According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), a collaboration of math professors, teachers and thought leaders, the best way for teachers to reinvigorate math instruction and teach students practical skills is to link math with other subject areas and integrate the use of technology into the classroom.

Upon graduation, today's students will enter a complex, technology-rich world where information literacy is essential. If educators use technology to take a more creative approach to mathematics instruction, it will help students develop the 21st century math skills needed to be successful in the careers of the future.

More than anything else, technology makes it possible for teachers of all subjects to personalize the learning experience of their students.

Adaptive learning programs are able to provide students with one-on-one math tutorials and help them work through material in which they may need a little more practice. This gives students the individualized attention that they desperately need but may not be getting when their teacher is responsible for a classroom of 30 students.

"What technology can do is track the different approaches students are taking and give them guidance," Ken Koedinger, director of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, told Edutopia.

The use of tablets has also become an increasingly popular tool for classroom instruction. The ability to personalize learning is a key challenge facing teachers of the past, present and future, and tablets help to make it possible. Because they are portable devices, tablets can be used to assist student learning both in the classroom and outside of school, helping and engaging students who may have otherwise fallen behind.

There's no denying that the 21st century is a digital world, and the integration of technology into daily life is something that young students in particular have come to expect. Using adaptive learning programs as a supplement to math instruction from teachers will help students gain the math skills needed to succeed in today's technological world.

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