A New Way of Teaching: A Case Study of an Elementary Teacher and Digital Mathematics Curricula

Proceedings of The 6th International Conference on Research in Education, Teaching and Learning

Year: 2023



A New Way of Teaching: A Case Study of an Elementary Teacher and Digital Mathematics Curricula

Dr. Steve Rhine




In the past few years many elementary classrooms in the United States have dramatically transformed mathematics instruction because of digital curricula (DC). The promise of DC is that “digital devices, software, and learning platforms offer a once-unimaginable array of options for tailoring education to each individual student’s academic strengths and weaknesses, interests and motivations, personal preferences, and optimal pace of learning” (Herold, 2016, n.p.). DC are not simply paper textbooks online. There are numerous features of DC that are different from traditional curricula. These include computer adaptive instruction and activities that automate differentiation, instructional videos, language translation, and massive amounts of data on students’ progress. There is a wide range in how teachers implement digital curricula in the classroom. At one extreme, digital curricula removes the teacher from the equation as the teacher simply pushes ‘play’ on a computer and a video ‘teaches’ students and then students work on laptops for 30 minutes. In other classrooms, teachers are more active in their interaction with the technology and students. In this case study, a teacher engages with a very restrictive digital curriculum to create an effective dynamic between technology, students, mathematics, and the teacher. The case study includes video of classroom instruction and an interview of the teacher exploring her choices and motivation for how she works with her students and the technology. Further, the case study raises concerns about teachers’ ability to advocate for themselves and their choices for instruction when administrators adopt ‘teacher proof’ curricula.

keywords: curricula, elementary, mathematics, teachers, technology