Commenting on Comments

Recently I commented on a post written by a fellow COETAIL’er. While her and I are at different places in our COETAIL journey, the post she wrote was important in that it made me think about what I have learned over the past 15 months. Writing the comment felt like a validation and affirmation that I have become truly tranformed in my understanding of all things relating to education technology and information literacy. Here’s my comment to her post.


Thanks. My name is Chris. I enjoyed reading your post. Probably the most resonating aspect and question for me to ponder is, where does paper and pencil fit in the math classroom? Not many years ago, it probably was other way around. Where does technology fit in the math classroom?

Especially in the early years and development of procedural mathematics, i.e. solving equations and doing homework, paper and pencil are often good tools of choice. However, as students get older, modeling and applying the mathematics becomes even more important and more well-suited to technology based instructional and learning methods. With age also comes more freedom and responsibility in using technology including things like cell phones and Twitter in the classroom. My students are not allowed by school policy.

I teach grade 7 math and science in Taipei, Taiwan. My students learn in a 1:1 Lenovo tablet environment. It’s the best thing ever teaching wise that’s ever happened to me. My students complete all of their homework digitally with a stylus on OneNote. My students’ cloudbased notebooks are accessible to me at any time for viewing, grading, etc. My paper and pencil routine is completely gone except for our traditional quizzes and tests. If I could, I would change that too. Incedentally, I also use Google classroom with my math students when the need fits the job at hand.

As far as learning resources are concerned, I am curious if you have ever used GoFormative? It’s the subject of my course 5 final project. Just a suggestion, based on experience, it’s not too early to start thinking about it. Here’s one my first posts relating to my project: link to There are many aspects of GoFormative that I found favorable to using Socrative or Kahoot.

I don’t know where to begin even addressing the other technology resources that I use and like. The list changes so frequently now. I do have some mainstays including Desmos and Geogebra. Mostly what I tap into however, are the many online Java applets that are ideal for manipulative use. One that I used with my students recently is the digital balance scale found at: link to My advice to any eductor, math included, is to be very active in contiually searching for new ways to bring technology into their teaching practice and the hands of their students. Then go one step further and share it with others through PLN’s and beyond.

Best wishes and thanks again for a thought-provoking post.

Best wishes,


6 thoughts on “Commenting on Comments

  1. Chris your post came at a perfect time for me as I explore ways to make the teaching of math skills more engaging for students who need time and repetition to master these foundations. I still use paper and pencil… umm, as a number of the on-line resources I have found are purely a digital substitution for the paper. Therefore I will look up the resources you mention. I have used illuminations as an interactive resource and my students were highly engaged and enjoyed ‘playing’ it. Another interactive manipulative website I have used is PhET interactive simulations,, if you haven’t used this already, I hope you find it helpful. Thanks for being a creator and sharing resources that work for you.

    • Hi Bettina, It’s nice to connect with you via the COETAIL blogs. You bring up an interesting point about technology integration/use in the math classroom. Yes, many applets and other digital tools are mere substitutions for paper and pencil methods. On the other hand, there not all that bad either. Sometimes I think they get a bad rap. For example, there are some digital tools that do nothing more than allow students to manipulate the graph of a linear function with sliders, etc. only to see the slope and y-intercept of an equation change accordingly. I could have students do all of that via paper/pencil but it would be incredibly inefficient and less interactive. Hope this makes sense. By the way, yes, I do use Phet. I was introduced to them 2 years ago by one of my fellow science teachers. We use on of their simulations during our evolution unit. I’m glad you reminded me about them in the context of math. It never really dawned on me to look beyond my science classes for their use in math. Again, nice to hear from you. Look forward to seeing your COETAIL work in the future. Best wishes Chris. @CJHoffman03.

      • Thanks Chris- totally understand your point, and agree, even if it is a substitution, some students prefer working on the device versus pencil and paper, also vice versa, so options is key!

  2. Thanks Chris. I just read her blog, and I am familiar with her use of post-its. Love how it is visual , as it clearly shows the students their growth.

  3. This is a great example of why I love the COETAIL community…we can all be in different paces and different places in our journey. But there is some amazing support and learning between people in this community. Thanks for being such an important member of this PLN.


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