from Technology & Learning
There are plenty of online resources to help students solve math problems.
Technology can support the study of math in a variety of ways. Below is a sampling of resources to benefit the math classroom.
Calculate profit and loss with ClassBrain's Lemonade Stand Game.
Students enter an interactive mathematical environment when they use simulations such as ClassBrain's Lemonade Stand Game. Players begin with money, decide how much to spend and to charge, and how many glasses of lemonade they will make based on the weather forecast. The program tracks the students' earnings or losses.
Kids can also solve problems based on what's going on in their own communities. The National Math Trail spearheads this practice for schools across the country. For example, at Hillcrest Elementary, in Ellsworth, WI, students base their math problems what's going on in their own village, including on their playground and at the local cheese-curd factory.
Young students get help understanding abstract concepts when they visualize data using the National Council of Teachers of Math Illuminations Bar Grapher, which introduces students to its online graphing program where students can compare data and begin to transition to abstract representations.
As elementary math teachers need worksheets for standards-practice, they can go to an online site such as Teachnology.com, where primary teachers can find worksheets on visual math for comparing groups and identifying differences.
Sometimes middle school students need step-by-step scaffolding as they try to solve addition, division, or ratio word problems. As students do a ratio problem in Math Playground's Thinking Blocks, for example, they're provided with structured assistance with hints and moveable blocks.
Middle school students, in small groups, become engaged in combined math/science problems they solve in 30 minutes. HotMath includes diverse math learning challenges in angles, symmetry, scale drawing, and balance algebra, for example.
Students can demonstrate their understanding of shapes through the use of digital-concept map programs such as Inspiration. A teacher gives his students a concept map of shapes and shape categories (rhombus, square, equilateral, for instance). The students move the shapes around to show the relationships.
Students learn real-life math as they collect information about recycling from the school cafeteria and share that information via videoconference with another class doing the same research. Each class reports on the numbers of students who bring lunch from home. Furthermore, they report on the amount of paper bags, plastic bags, paper napkins, plastic silverware, and food containers that are tossed. The classes share data, compare graphs, and figure out what it means in terms of school pollution, while considering strategies to reduce the cafeteria trash pollution.
Math becomes physical for high school students when they use a science-motion-detector probe to create a linear algebra graph as they walk from one point to another. The students experiment with how to change the variables of distance and speed. They see the graph changing as they modify one of the variables, gaining real-time verification of their math knowledge.
Students explore complex math based on their communities when they do a WebQuest such as Womick's A Functional Housing Market, in which students derive a linear regression from their data, answer questions on the average cost per square foot, land values, and then predict the cost of different homes.
High school students can better understand how number theories relate to actual events by watching the Numb3rs TV show which the teacher can tape for the "number" segments. Some small math segments are also available on YouTube, by searching for Numb3rs.
Sometimes math students know they need help, but they do not want to ask the teacher. They can go to S.0.S. Math, which has tutorials that often include practice lessons.
If students want to check any math answers to see if their logic is correct, they can go to QuickMath, which instantly provides them with the answer. For example, if students are not sure about a "joining the fractions" problem, they go to the Algebra/Join Fractions section, type in their problem of 1/5 + 2/10 + 1/20, and see the answer of 9/20. If they don't have that answer, they can rework the problem.
Through class Web sites, blogs or wikis, teachers can communicate the math standards, the goals needed to achieve the standards, homework assignments, projects, tests, and helpful Web sites for parents and students. The online site becomes an extension of the class.
Harry Grover Tuttle, Ed.D., is a consultant.