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Teacher Expectations and Guidance on the Role of AI and Learning Math

Teacher Expectations and Guidance on the Role of AI and Learning Math

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.

Many different books stacked on top of each other, forming a funnel-like shape.
Photo by Lysander Yuen on Unsplash

Even though I will not be in a classroom teacher this year, my interactions with students who used Photomath app in the past have led me to consider how I might present it to my students. As with any tool in math class, I think it’s important to establish clear guidelines and expectations for the use of the Photomath. Here’s how I might introduce students to Photomath in my classroom:

  1. Consider issues of equity and access. If you are setting up the use of Photomath as an expectation or tool for targeted support, ensure that students will have access to use the platform. If students in your class are unable to access the app, ensure there is an equitable and accessible alternative. Remember that access does not just mean having a phone; is there equitable language access? Access for students with IEPs?
  2. Get clear on your own set of expectations for use of Photomath in the context of your class and help with math homework assignments. Are you hoping students will not use it except when explicitly directed? To check certain homework problems for the quantitative answer? To compare their solution pathway with the one(s) provided by Photomath? If we as teachers are not clear on what our expectations and boundaries are for tools like Photomath, our students will definitely not be.
  3. Ensure the math learning tool is introduced in the context of something useful! While Photomath is indeed powerful, it is not limitless. Here is a list of supported and unsupported content..
  4. Provide space in class and/or guidance for students to explore the program at home with limited instructions. Then, have a class discussion! What did students notice? What did they wonder? How do they expect it might be helpful or unhelpful based on their first impression? What norms or expectations do students suggest for when Photomath is used? This will also be a great springboard into a conversation about your expectations!
  5. Share your expectations with students clearly and directly, and provide rationale. This is a great opportunity to underscore the ways that Photomath can help students develop as mathematicians — and the times it will be important to put the app aside. Connections to students’ lives, math content standards, and the Standards of Mathematical Practice (presented in student-friendly language) will be key!
  6. Communicate your expectations about math technology tools to families! Check back for my next blog post for ideas on what you might share with families to support productive and positive use of Photomath at home.

The Photomath website also offers a best practices guide that may be helpful for teachers as they plan Photomath-augmented experiences in the classroom. I highly recommend taking a look at it.