Web technology currently lacks an appropriate design for teaching geometry in the classroom. However, the Web offers benefits that can enhance classroom teaching and student learning. By using a lesson plan, a fundamental teaching tool, a classroom teacher can incorporate web technology to enhance learning and avoid anticipated pitfalls.
I created, based on my research, a lesson plan and web pages to demonstrate how web technology can be used in the classroom. The success of online learning hinges on appropriate application and useful web design. By using traditional teaching tools (lesson plans) and developing web pages coordinated to the lesson plan, this project demonstrates how the two can be used together to improve the learning experience.
Most web sites addressing quadrilaterals serve as references and read like encyclopedias. A student new to this information might become easily overwhelmed. Therefore, useful online learning depends on an instructor-designed platform that better facilitates classroom learning. Rather than producing another encyclopedia-type reference, the appropriate application would be more fundamental in its information and incorporate teaching methodologies for all learners.
During my teaching experiences at the Kumon Math Center, I observed students struggling with basic geometry concepts. After talking with them about what the teacher did in the classroom, I began to understand the inadequacy of traditional teaching methodologies. The lack of interaction apparently undermined the learning experience. From my observations, I ascertained the learning was not being transferred from the blackboard through note-taking. As a math teacher and tutor, I essentially taught previously “learned” concepts again rather than reinforcing acquired knowledge.
Additional coursework in Geometry for Teachers, Graph Theory and Unifying Principles of Geometry and Algebra provided theoretical understanding of traditional teaching methodologies. Although traditional methods help teachers breakdown theory to its most elemental parts, the transference of these theories was some how lacking. The interactive learning relationship common between a tutor and student apparently provided a better learning experience than traditional lecture.
I have participated in numerous web design workshops. With my traditional teaching experience and the web design knowledge, I formulated the notion to enhance learning through web technology. A search through over 80 web sites revealed inadequate online teaching tools. As described, online resources provide nothing more than an abundance of text information.
I decided to create an interactive teaching tool for the classroom. I believe a graphing technique will help students generate ideas and comprehension regarding shape. Web technology provides the most appropriate and universal vehicle.
Further research lead me to a professional development method used primarily in Japan. This Japanese “lesson study” comprises three phases: develop a lesson, teach or observe a lesson, discuss the lesson (Lewis). Teachers work collectively through these phases to ultimately refine a lesson or unit plan as it is implemented in a school’s curriculum. By using this methodology, I can corroborate with my peers and refine the lesson plan and web applications proposed in this paper.
My research shows that web technology cannot replace traditional teaching methods. Students still need to acquire a basic understanding of concepts. Web technology, however, provides a way to reinforce learning and transfer theories from concepts to application. Simple note-taking and individual problem solving fails to transfer theory to higher order thinking. Therefore, a detailed lesson plan, student-centered teaching, and supplemental materials must also be used. The success of web technology depends on using it with the best traditional methods, not as a means of replacing traditional teaching.
The lesson plan and web-pages designed for this project are to be implemented in a real-time classroom setting. Empirical evidence will be documented to demonstrate the maturity of this design for teaching. Teacher and student reactions to the web program will be elicited through conversation and classroom observation using the Japanese lesson study described.
Current web programming has not adequately married traditional pedagogy and web technology. I propose to create a useful combination that results in an enhanced learning experience measured by better student comprehension. This project offers an initial lesson plan and web-based program to be used in a Japanese lesson study. In the study, geometry teachers will discuss, refine and implement the proposed teaching tools. At the end of the study, which is a development tool itself, two outcomes can be expected.
Firstly, the lesson study will produce a refined lesson plan, which would include references to necessary supplemental materials and a refine web-based teaching tool. The lesson study “consists of the study or examination of teaching practice” (Fernandez and Yohshida, 7). The very nature of a Japanese lesson study is to produce the outcome intended in this project.
Secondly, a Japanese lesson study, by proxy, produces professional development for the educators involved. As a participant in this study, teachers can expect to learn new skills and teaching methodologies, while enforcing effective teaching practices already used regularly. Although this project focuses primarily on producing a useful lesson plan and web tool, this additional outcome serves to further education by better equipping the educators themselves. Furthermore, it opens opportunities for other innovative teaching techniques that better educate learners.