Translation in the Classroom

For another education course, I had to create and teach a math lesson in my 1st Grade classroom. After collaboration with my cooperating teacher, we decided it would be best I teach a lesson reviewing addition and subtraction in story problems as well as fact families. This lesson integrated different forms of technology in order to benefit student learning. These technologies were the ELMO, and math mats with manipulative that I had made for students to use (both will be later explained.) Both of these increased Distributed Cognition in students which is how they used technology to learn in the classroom.

In order to make this lesson meaningful and engaging, I created math mats for every student. This would allow the students to follow along with what I am doing on the board, at their seats. Also using manipulative such as marshmallows.

A physical aspect of technology I used during this lesson was the ELMO. The ELMO allowed me to project myself using the math and mats and marshmallows that the students would be using at their desks. This allowed me to model and offer direct instruction to guide the students. I chose to use the ELMO rather than just write the answer on the chalkboard so that the students would be able to see me interact with the same math mat that they had in front of them.

The whole point of this lesson was to help the students make the transition between using manipulative to solve problems, to using small pictures. I thought this was important because when the students are taking standardized tests, they will not be able to use manipulative. By making the transition from manipulative to drawings helped bridge the gap between what the students could do with each.

This is where the idea of translation comes into play. Martin defines translation as “The function of translation refers to the transformation of information from one rep- resentational system to another ” (Martin, 93) So, I had the students transform, or change the way they solved the problem, however with the same idea. They first solved the problem with marshmallows, and then transitioned into using dots.

For example, 7-3. If using marshmallows, the student would first take out 7 marshmallows to represent the starting amount. Then, they would remove 3 of those marshmallows to represent the change. Last, the students would be left with 4 marshmallows. Ultimately, representing 7-3=4.

Then, I guided the students to take what they learned, and translate the strategy into using dots. So instead of using marshmallows, the students would draw 7 dots, then erase 3 and are left with 4. This is also an example of effects of technology, because we are fading away the technology (marshmallows) so they can still solve the math problems without them.

Both of these strategies have the same exact idea. The only difference is that one strategies uses tangible manipulative and the other does not. In this instance, technology did help make my students smarter. It helped them transition from having to use manipulative to solve math problems, to just being able to draw dots and small pictures on a page to solve the problems.


Martin, L. (2012). Connection, Translation, Off-Loading, and Monitoring: A Framework for Characterizing the Pedagogical Functions of Educational Technologies. Technology, Knowledge & Learning, 17(3), 87-107.


One thought on “Translation in the Classroom

  1. Pingback: Thoughts About Off-Loading – Ed Tech for ECE- Anna

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