It is not every day that you find a Maths author is also a teacher who is passionate about using technology in his classroom. Mr Gerald Plaatjies is a Grade 5 Maths teachers at Eden Park Primary School in Johannesburg, South Africa (Ekurhuleni West District), and he is very passionate about integrating technology in education. He has been teaching Maths at Eden Park Primary School for over 21 years, and during this time he has created a variety of learning materials for his learners using Microsoft Office. Mr Plaatjies is the author of the Amazing Mental Calculations: Division book which was published in Canada; and he is in the process of completing his second book in this series entitled Amazing Mental Calculations: Timetables.
Gerald has been interested in using technology in teaching for many years. In fact, it all started in the year 2000 when he bought his first computer. “I learnt the nitty gritty stuff by myself, starting with word processing”, he said. He is motivated by making mathematics as interactive and practical as possible in the classroom. He uses Microsoft extensively in his classroom and PowerPoint is one of his favourite tools for his lessons and assessments.
Gerald uses ICT technology for lessons and other every day tasks in a variety of ways using Microsoft Office and other technologies. He displays images on PowerPoint to teach 3D shapes in Geometry as well as to show differences and similarities between 2D and 3D objects. He encourages his learners to take photos of buildings and objects around the school and he uses these in mathematics lessons. He makes video recordings of practical lessons for his learners to refer to when they don’t understand Maths concepts. Gerald enjoys using Microsoft Excel to make graphs for all kinds of situations. He chooses real life situations to demonstrate making graphs in class. He records all his marks using Microsoft Excel and also uses Excel as an analytical tool. He uses Microsoft Office programs to design certificates for the learners., and they love receiving these. He also created a cover for the school diary using Microsoft Office programs.
Teaching at a public school in South Africa is not without its challenges especially when it comes to using technology during lessons. Electricity outages are not uncommon. Gerald has to book the devices when he wants to use them in class as these are in demand. Lack of Internet connectivity is also a regular challenge. However, these challenges do not diminish his enthusiasm. He bought his own data projector to use in class, as he believes it is important for the learners to see what he is presenting. Gerald believes that the use of a program PowerPoint can make a lesson very interesting. He often converts PowerPoint presentations to MP4 videos so that they can be viewed via a DVD player by means of a USB.
Gerald Plaaitjies has his future dreams for education. He looks forward to that day in South Africa when schools can do away with paper and become paperless classrooms. He longs for the day when parents are more involved in driving and encouraging the use of technology in education. He advocates that effective communication between parents and teachers will start the conversation in this direction.
How do you use Microsoft application in your classroom?