One of the challenges with digital learning and teaching is that it is not easy for students to show their work. In a perfect world, there would be an app that all students have that allows them to complete their math work right on an online platform. (If you know of such an app or website, let me know!) This post will share a few ways that students can show their math work digitally, including two that require no additional tech and a free student guide to uploading pictures to Google Classroom.
Why is Showing Math Work Important?
Many would say that accountability (and ensuring the students don’t use a calculator) is the most important reason for showing math work.
However, there is another reason that is just as important (if not more so).
When students show their math work, teachers get a glimpse into their head. They can analyze the math work to “see” what students are thinking and what misconceptions they may have.
This is powerful for driving future instruction, but not always easy when done digitally.
Ways to Show Math Work Digitally
Let’s look at three options for helping your students show their math work (including which ones work best for which type of problems).
The first two ways are the easiest for students to handle (technologically speaking), but the third way is the best at really showing students’ mathematical understandings.
1. Type all of the equations you used.
This way is most helpful with word problems (including multi-step word problems). With basic equations, this way doesn’t work because the students are just copying the equation.
2. Type all of the steps you used to solve a problem. (First I….Then I…)
This way is probably the best way to “show” math work digitally (besides uploading a picture). But it can be difficult for students who are not used to writing out their thoughts and steps or students who struggle with writing.
To be truly effective, this requires modeling, feedback, and sometimes questioning strategies from the teacher. With that said, it is definitely better than nothing!
3. Upload or email a picture showing your work.
This is the best way to have students show their math work digitally, but it does require some tech knowledge.
When working on a computer, I always require my students to work out their problems on a piece of paper. For digital distance learning, this can continue with students taking a picture of their work and then uploading it for you to review (if needed).
Luckily, uploading pictures to Google Classroom Slides is pretty straightforward. Students can upload pictures directly on Google Slides through their laptop or even a mobile device.
Other options include having your students email you the work (I recommend not having the students email work daily because that would get overwhelming quickly) or using features in other online learning platforms.