Tuesday, March 24, 2009
This week's tip: Tools for teaching Math(s)
This week I decided that you can never have too many tools for teaching maths. As I stood in front of my class explaining how to subtract a three digit number from 6000, I wished somehow that I could teleport somewhere far, far away and be replaced by the person who had all the right words at just the right time to make this tricky process perfectly clear.
These days, that perfect person is probably out there somewhere, and could quite possibly have made a video, flash activity or game to explain the process perfectly! And, these days, I have access to those materials and can display them on my interactive whiteboard for students to see and hear. And... if they don't get it the first time, we can replay those perfect words for another try. Then... I can help students as they work through some examples. I can use those perfect words to reinforce what students are doing.
So, today I'd like to share some of the wonderful resources that can be accessed as teaching tools and practice tools both in the classroom and at home. Some require registration (R), some require a paid subscription ($) and some are ready to go flash based activities.
Mathletics (R, $) is gaining momentum here in Australia. I worked with it at my previous school and we are in the process of registering at my new school. It is quite costly, but the school P&C paid for it in both locations. As far as I'm aware, Mathletics is the best at what it does. It is a brilliant system that continues to grow and improve while others try to keep up. They provide teacher training as schools get started.
When teachers make it a part of their teaching program it can have amazing results for students. Activities are relevant to classroom teaching and teachers have the option of setting activities as homework. There are opportunities to differentiate - selecting easier or harder programs for students to suit their abilities. Students design an avatar (character to represent themselves) and can win points and awards by working on Maths activities. Teachers can monitor student progress and development. If a school has the money and the support of teachers, I couldn't recommend this more highly. This is an example of high quality online learning.
Smart Kiddies (R, $) is similar to Mathletics, but provides different resources. It was offering resources to teachers free during school hours, but at a cost to parents outside of school hours. According to a recent email I received, this may be changing to a free product at all hours for all users. This is a great option if your school has chosen not to go with Mathletics. I am currently using this as a teacher with my Maths class, but have not registered all my students and given passwords etc. Here you can find video explanations, interactive whiteboard activities, printable worksheets and an online dictionary of mathematical terms. It's a great tool to draw on during Maths lessons.
Crickweb is free and ready to use. It is not limited to Mathematics but also includes other subject areas in the UK curriculum. As it is a UK program, all money activities are in UK currency and some activities are more culturally attuned to UK students, however there are great activities here if you take the time to check them out in advance. These activities are designed to work with interactive white boards, or one-to-one computers if you're lucky enough to have them!
Let's Play Math! is a blog well worth subscribing to if you teach maths. This blog is about playing around with mathematical ideas. Blog posts are fun and help to illustrate maths in the real world.
Peep and the Big Wide World is a lot of fun for the littlies. It makes me wish I was back in Year 1, playing with these big, bright colourful creatures! I think that the kids would get very attached to this game and I can almost hear their cheers as their teacher announces the use of one of the activities for an introduction to a Maths lesson. If you want to engage your students from the get-go, this is the tool you're after.
I'm sure there are plenty of others, but they're the ones I've come across recently. What do you think? What else would YOU recommend?
Image: Teleport by alisarincrimson http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3092/2737752623_0f8c9f1c9e.jpg?v=0