Debunking Digital Myths
You must recognize the need to change the structure of "math class" before changing the tools you use.
MYTH #1: Going digital is too much. Students need to do math on paper!
At the beginning of the year, students are provided with a scratch-book of grid paper. They are always welcome to jot down ideas, computation and sketches. Students are often also given whiteboards and markers. They create physical posters! The idea of abandoning a traditional notebook is about shifting away from a teacher-centered classroom where students are primarily taking notes. If they are too busy brainstorming, debating, drawing, arguing, and solving authentic problems, they won't have time for notes! They'll be collaboratively creating artifacts of their learning - how can that be captured in a traditional notebook?
MYTH #2: There are countless studies that emphasize the need for taking notes to help remember what is learned. Taking away a notebook means they don't have opportunities to review notes.
I am always curious about these studies, particularly who was sampled. Students in K-12 have grown up with devices. I am curious to see if this data changes overtime. That said, we know that students who are exposed to a rich learning environment, who complete authentic and engaging tasks are much more likely to succeed than those who memorize. If we are offering opportunities for engagement rather than "chalk-talks", students do not need a "notebook" but instead access to review past activities. Digital tools help make this happen - even better than notebooks! When was the last time you can remember a teacher suggesting a student should "study math notes"? Math is about experience and practice, not memorization!
MYTH #3: Students who do not have access to their own computer can't make this jump (environments that are not 1:1).
This is an argument that is not as easy to refute. However, students can still be offered opportunities to access work on classroom computers or shared devices using cloud-based tools (such as the G-Suite). A student centered classroom can still fold in digital tools as needed to prevent paper waste (and a loss of prep time!). The class does not have to be digital offer authentic opportunities.