Sunday, May 25, 2014

Great Math Resources online


     I’ve just had my 50th birthday and I am completing my 26th year in the education field.  The differences between today and when I began teaching are certainly many.  One of these is the vast amount of great math resources available to teachers online.  Of course, along with the “great” resources, there are also other resources that may (shall we say) fall into the “ho-hum” category.  I would like to offer a few tips for finding great resources online; and then would like to share some of my favorites.

Tips to Find Great Online Resources
  1. Does the resource promote and/or encourage student thinking?
  2. Is the resource available to students outside of school (web-based)?
  3. Does the resource do more than what can be done with the resources you have in your school?
  4. Is the resource engaging for students?
Online resources that cause students to ask questions and to try different scenarios are great because real learning comes not from “doing-what-the-teacher-tells-you-to-do”, but from discovery on your own.  I love using resources that cause students to ask, “What if…?” questions.  It is also nice to introduce a resource in the classroom and to allow students to explore on their own outside of the classroom.  It can be a required assignment, but it’s better if the students are so immersed in the resource that they want to play and explore with it on their own time.  This is why web-based resources are great; available on any devise and at any time.  Resources that go beyond what students do in the classroom are very interesting and engaging.  Online worksheets may be a time-saver for teachers, but a worksheet is a worksheet is a worksheet for students.

Great Online Resources
So here are a few of my favorites.  This is not an exhaustive list; there are lots more.  But here are a few:
Desmos
Desmos is an online graphing calculator that is (both) a great presentation tool for the classroom and a great discovery tool for students.  You can (for instance) place a variable in the place for the slope and use a slider (say between -10 and +10) to show students how the slope of the line changes when you change the slope from a negative number to a positive number.  When you get on the site, you will see a lot of creative art designed by students on a coordinate plane using equations of lines and curves.  Truly amazing!  Also, students can email their works of art (or their graphs from HW assignments) to their teacher or friends.

Hooda Math
This is a site full of games that require students to think and to plan ahead.  They have games for students of all ages and it is easy to search for an age or grade level and for a category that you are interested in.  I love it when students think they are playing games, but really they are solving problems.  Some of these involve math problems, but all involve critical thinking.

Nrich
Oh my goodness–can I spend the next 20 paragraphs talking about this site?  (Please??)  This is a fantastic math resource for students of all ages.  It contains great math tasks that require a lot of student thinking.  Students can (and–I would say–should) work in groups to share their ideas about solving these tasks.  It is easy to search for what you want.  There are engaging pictures and engaging scenarios in the tasks.  Nrich has a rating system to tell you how difficult the tasks are.  They have STEM connections (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.)  Teachers can print posters with engaging math tasks.  I just love this site.

NCTM Illuminations
This site is from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in the United States.  It has lesson plans and lots of activities for students in all grades.  There are games and challenges.  Students can complete with other students online.

Ten Marks
This is a newly found site for me.  Ten Marks provides great, rigorous, high-level math problems to students in grades 1 to Algebra 2.  It is individual for each student.  When students struggle, Ten Marks provides extra help with hints and videos and math problems that address the area of struggle.  During the summer of 2014, Ten Marks is free to anybody.  At other times there is a small cost.  This is great for keeping up to speed during the summer and during the school year.

Learn Zillion
This is a great site for teachers and students.  They have lessons aligned to the Common Core standards.  They hire excellent teachers from around the county (United States) to add to the site every year.  This site keeps getting better all of the time.

So this is my short list of favorite math resources online.  Is your favorite listed here?  What online resources do you use?  Let’s us know about them!

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