San Antonio Technology Education Coalition


Challenge Grant Abstract

Most adults who took a high school algebra class remember calculating the slope of a line from a memorized equation: m=delta(y)/delta(x). Unfortunately, few learned the applications of m or understood the concept of slope. Though this abstract approach was deemed adequate for many children in the past, many of today's students are not responding to this approach and are not learning. For example, only 17% of students taking Algebra I in the San Antonio Technology in Education Coalition target schools passed the state-mandated End-of-Course Algebra I Exam in 1996. Sound teaching begins with questions about real world events that are interesting and familiar, not with abstract concepts. Students cannot learn to think critically, analyze information, make logical arguments, explain natural phenomena, or work as part of a team unless they are permitted and encouraged to do so over and over in many different ways.

When students connect their basic learning to concrete experiences, they develop a foundation for understanding more complex ideas. Because the computer helps to rapidly collect, organize, and analyze data, technology enables students to quickly and easily replicate previously laborious experiments that used to be too time consuming to complete. Once data has been collected, students can grow in their ability to make observations and generalizations, reason logically, manipulate symbols, and derive "formulas."

Over the past twenty years, as educational institutions have embraced technology as a means to improve school and student performance, the major emphasis on resources acquisition has been on obtaining hardware. Only recently has there been a recognition that training and appropriate placement of technology and its application within the curriculum, are important components of successful technological curriculum integration projects.

The San Antonio Technology in Education Coalition (SATEC) seeks to connect student learning to concrete experiences through the seamless integration of technology into curriculum and instruction by developing a training and application model. This model will first be piloted in the Coalition's critical need area of mathematics through a hands-on, data-driven approach to the learning of algebraic concepts using such tools as computer-interfaced probes, image analysis software, and spreadsheet-based simulation activities. These technology tools will radically change the environment of the teaching/learning process for mathematics. We will infuse this systemic change of current teaching/learning practices through technology training and into all curricular areas.

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