Math instructor equips students with virtual tools to support success

by Joe Wyatt
Published April 30, 2020

Not satisfied with merely guiding her students to a remote learning environment, Maria Streater, instructor of mathematics at Amarillo College, enhanced the transition by providing everyone with a virtual welcome basket of techno goodies.

Maria StreaterINIn it her students of statistics, college algebra and calculus discovered an array of tools to support learning and augment the real-time videoconferencing delivered on Google Meets – the common denominator of AC’s tech-supported realm.

“College-level math is challenging enough in a traditional learning environment,” Streater said. “I don’t want our move to remote learning to become a barrier for anyone, so I’ve incorporated a combination of apps and strategies that I hope make it easier for my students to achieve success.”

Streater first steered her students to a free app called CamScanner, so they can create, edit and submit photographs of their written work. She then set up free DropBox accounts for everyone in her classes, to which the photos can easily be shared.

In a web extension called Xodo, files can be opened directly from DropBox, graded electronically, and seamlessly saved back to the original folder.

Additionally, Streater uses Google Voice, so students can call or text her with questions/concerns; points students to a free calculator-emulator app; and “flips” portions of her classes to optimize the time she spends with scholars.

“In conventional face-to-face classes we typically introduce materials and go over definitions, then work some examples,” Streater said. “Now, recorded lectures can be part of the homework, and students can come to class prepared to work examples right away.

“They’re getting much more active learning from our class time, which is great.”

Streater also finds that recordings of her classes and labs – which are posted to Blackboard, AC’s learning management system – are being utilized by students not only as a resource for reviewing the material, but as a source of content delivery for students with time constraints generated by the pandemic.

“I have paramedic students and healthcare students, as well as students who have changed jobs or taken additional jobs during this crisis,” she said. “I’ve found that the recordings have provided them with flexibility that just wasn’t there before we moved to remote learning.

“I’ve adjusted some time frames and due dates for students based on their individual profiles. I recorded some introductory sessions with instructions, too, and the feedback has been incredible. They can access these resources whenever they need to.

“Math is such a visual subject, and the benefits of watching something multiple times is an added perk of our remote learning environment.”

Streater says she plans to continue using video recordings, along with other of the remote-learning strategies she has employed during the COVID-19 crisis, even upon a return to traditional, in-person teaching.

This comes as no surprise to Dr. Lori Petty, curriculum-design specialist in AC’s Center for Teaching and Learning, who says Streater’s passion for teaching is boundless.

“Maria deeply cares for her students and is committed to helping them be successful,” Petty said. “It’s not just the tools and strategies she uses, but her understanding of how to pedagogically integrate them together to help students learn a difficult content.


“She not only learns about tools or strategies but also why they are important and how to most effectively implement them in the classroom.


“Probably the thing I love most about Maria is when you spend two minutes in conversation with her about mathematics you can’t help but be overwhelmed by her enthusiasm and passion for what she calls ‘the beauty of mathematics.’ She wants all of us to see and experience the beauty of mathematics in our daily lives.”


Streater says she is motivated to teach because education has played a “major role” in her own journey. “It was the vehicle for change in my life,” she said. “That’s why I feel so passionately about student success.


My own education has given me much more than a collection of information and strategies; my education gave me confidence, independence, and freedom. I want our students to experience their own worthiness, to be independent of socioeconomic constraints and constructs, and to have the freedom to live the life they always dreamed.”