Parent Expectations with Photomath and Learning Math Using Apps
Note about the author: Kevin Hoffman is a Teach for America alum who taught math for several years in Los Angeles and Oakland, CA. He is currently Vice Principal at the Envision Academy for Arts & Technology and holds a Masters in Education in Learning & Design from Vanderbilt University.
In conversations with parents and families, I would regularly be asked about additional resources and math tools for students that they could use at home to support their math journey. I believe that Photomath can be a strong resource not only for students doing homework at home, but also to help families connect to content in class. After discussing norms and expectations regarding Photomath with students, I would strongly recommend communicating those expectations to families. In doing so, I would offer the following considerations:
Share the norms and expectations discussed in class, and share your rationale. I feel it is important to share the conversation from class (described in this post) around Photomath with families to ensure everyone is on the same page. This can be shared through a classwide messaging system if your school uses one, or during back-to-school night or individual parent conferences. When introducing families to this resource, ensure there are equitable alternatives in the event a family would prefer not to use Photomath (i.e. copies of worked solutions available on the school website or printed ones sent home).
Encourage the use of Photomath as a conversation-starter for students and their families. In particular, if families know the Math Practices or content standards being addressed in school, they can use some generic prompts to follow up with students about assignments. Question frames like these may be useful:
What was the focus for math homework today?
Did you [the student] use any tools (like Photomath) to help you? How did it help?
- (If students used Photomath to check work) Was your solution path similar to the one from Photomath?
- (If students used Photomath as an example when they were stuck) What did you notice from Photomath’s solution? Are there any questions you still have? Is there anything you are going to follow up with Ms./Mrs./Mr./Mx. ____ tomorrow?
- Can you explain the Photomath solution to me in your own words?
Were there any connections you saw or patterns you noticed in using Photomath and what you did in class? [this is a connection to a Math Practice — “Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.”]
Offer Photomath as one in a robust set of resources to support the mathematical process, and be available for follow-up and questions! Photomath is most useful as a learning tool that can support student mathematical thinking processes; this is a departure from a dominant and flawed culture around mathematics (based on my experience and relayed to me from students) as an exercise purely in quantitative correctness. It is crucial that we share this focus on the process with families and become available for families who wish to unpack Photomath’s role in our classrooms.
Did you know that the Photomath app was created by a father of three who struggled to explain math to his teenage son? Damir Sabol, the founder, created Photomath to help parents explain math to their children in simple terms. The step-by-step explanations are based on global research, special technology, and expert verification, ensuring that children can receive the help they need to succeed in math.
Check out the Parents section of the Photomath website for more info on how to use the app as a teaching tool at home.