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Embrace Cheating Tools

Technology is only going to get better.

Years ago when I used Google Translate the translations were better than nothing. But, every year it gets better and better. I have successfully traveled and presented internationally in multiple languages many times. A feat that would be challenging without Google Translate.

It is time to stop pretending our students will not have access to technology tools that will help them to be successful in ways that were impossible in 1980.


I do not teach language classes, I teach math. I have heard more than one math teacher curse Photomath. Not familiar with Photomath? IT will allow students to hold their phone over the math problem and it not only gives them the answer, it shows all the steps. English teachers before technology was so prolific had to fight students purchasing sparknotes.

Do Not Fight Tools

Fighting these tools is pointless, the technology is not going to go away. It is only going to get better. Having access to a Google Search, Photomath, Google Translate ensures that our students will NOT be crippled in the future when they need to know basic information. I of course went to school with “old school” teaching (I’m 45, graduated high school in 1995.) I had to memorize a lot of facts to write the correct answer on a line on Tuesday only to forget it a week later. Things I use in context in my life I remember without any problem or needing to use a tool. However, things I superficially learned for a test I am able to easily access.

Using Google Translate or Photomath

To think our students will not use these tools for their homework is naive at best. Instead, I ask students to use them. Stop hiding your phone under your desk, don’t think I do not know what you are doing. Instead, we ask students to critically analyze the results. “What is another way of phrasing this?” “What are other words we might use to get this idea across?” “Besides using order of operations, what is another way to simplify this expression?” “What would change if the coefficient was negative instead of positive?”

Multiple Ways

One thing I want my students to feel comfortable with is seeing equivalent expressions. That there is more than one way to answer a math question and more than one way to respond to a question (maybe in another language.) For math I use Graspable Math to allow students to explore 5 ways to solve or simply the same equation/expression. The existence of Graspable Math should not make me feel there is another way for students to cheat, but instead embrace that students will have access to these tools in the future and help them to understand how it is useful and how it is not. To change the question to take advantage rather than to simply say students can not use these technology advancements.

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