Learning About Technologies to Support Learning and Sharing in Mathematics

Area(s) of Focus: technology, math
Division(s): Intermediate, Senior
Level(s): Grade 9, Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12

This project involved a team of secondary teachers and an instructional coach at one school in learning about technologies that are available to support student learning and sharing in mathematics.

This project was designed to provide secondary teachers and an instructional coach at our school with the opportunity to learn about technologies that can be used to support student learning and sharing in mathematics. We looked at dynamic mathematics software (GeoGebra, Desmos), screencasting (Jing, Explain Everything) and online collaborative spaces for sharing (e.g., Padlet, Nearpod, Kahoot!). The team met formally and informally over the course of the school year to discuss different types of tools – how to use them, strategies for integrating them in the classroom and our classroom experiences.

Team Members

  • Jill Lazarus

    Renfrew County District School Board

  • Sue Kelly

    Renfrew County District School Board

  • Rob Levasseur

    Renfrew County District School Board

  • Lily Gen

    Renfrew County District School Board

Professional Learning Goals

The goal for this project was to provide teachers with the time and resources to gain comfort and experience with technologies that are available to facilitate student learning and sharing in mathematics. There was a range of comfort and experience in our group. The intention was to explore how technology can be used to enhance and not only replace what we were already doing without technology in our classrooms.

Activities and Resources

Informal and formal meetings were valuable for learning about new tools and ways to enhance our practices. We looked at various web-based and iPad applications (e.g., GeoGebra, AirPlay, Desmos, Nearpod, ExplainEverything, Kahoot!, Padlet) at our initial meeting and then each person chose at least one thing to try out with their students. The support and resources we gained through this project helped us achieve our goals. Since there was a range in comfort with technology among teachers in the group, it was helpful for team members to select tools that were most relevant to their practices. For example, Kahoot! was used for quick engaging assessment, Nearpod for sharing student solutions, Geogebra to support math representations and investigations, Desmos to support math investigations and to verify student thinking, Padlet for student collaboration, and AirPlay for projecting images of student constructions.

Unexpected Challenges

Challenges we encountered included:

  • we experienced a significant disruption when the school moved to a new building for second semester. It took time to get settled into the building and it was difficult to find time for regular group meetings.
  • a second key issue involved limited access to technology. Our board covered release time for the project and a significant portion of the OTF-TLC funding was dedicated to iPads to be used for the project. There was a delay, however, in receiving the iPads which made it more challenging to implement some of the ideas that we came up with.
  • stylus pens were helpful for drawing activities in Nearpod

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

The project focused on teacher learning, but the ideas we came up with were intended to enhance student learning. For example, tools like Desmos and GeoGebra make complex math concepts more visual. We found that:

  • Nearpod was valuable for sharing student thinking and facilitating discussion about different student solutions. Students were learning from each other. AirPlay was similar in this respect and we found that students were eager to share their work. There is a lot of potential for Nearpod for assessment for learning (e.g., displaying, documenting and recording student thinking over time) and this is something we intend to continue to explore.
  • 3D graphics in GeoGebra allowed for abstract concepts to be more visual.
  • Desmos provided ease of interaction with different math representations. With this tool, we found that the interface allowed for a stronger link to the math and less focus was on the mechanics of the tool. They can get right to the math concept.
  • Kahoot! (game based digital learning platform) increased student engagement.


  • All teachers in the math department and outside the group (Student Success and Special Education) joined the initial meeting. This gave people outside the group, but within the school, a sense of the project.
  • As an instructional coach, Sue is in contact with teachers and administrators at other schools in the board. Through these connections, she has shared and is continuing to share ideas and resources between schools and school subjects, including:
    • Nearpod activities
    • Desmos investigations (e.g., transformations of sinusoidal functions)
  • Findings from this project will inform subsequent projects that we hope to continue with in the fall. Jill is currently working on her PhD in Education and for her research, she plans on building on this project to bring a small team of teachers together to focus specifically on using technology to support assessment in mathematics. The OTF-TLC project is highly relevant to the study and findings will not only help inform the study, but will be shared with future participants.

Project Evaluation

The project was valuable as we learned about tools for enhancing our teaching and engaging students in mathematics. The move to the new building and delay in receiving iPads slowed down our initial progress, but we have since gained momentum. Success was demonstrated in:

  • increased teacher comfort with new tools
  • more understanding of specific context for applications
  • we are developing a bank of resources (e.g., Nearpod presentations) that we can share between teachers and schools
  • collaboration between schools has started and is evolving