Join Me @ Math Playground (Part II) by Bob Sprankle

This post is Part II of a post started by Cheryl Oakes on Tuesday, November 23, 2009 at TechLearning about the incredible work that Colleen King is doing with her site MathPlayground. When Cheryl asked me if I was interested in following up and continuing the theme of her post, I immediately said yes. Colleen's tools are too numerous and amazing too fit in one blog post. In fact, we're not even talking about just one site. Colleen currently runs 3 Math sites:

Each site offers a cornucopia of invaluable math tools.

(Speaking of cornucopia... I like to take this brief pause to wish all of the United States readers a Happy Thanksgiving today. Okay... back to the post).

Each of Colleen's sites can be accessed directly from the Math Playground site, but let's examine them separately to understand their offerings.

Math Playground:
As Cheryl pointed out in her article, this site serves up engaging math games and puzzles that will keep students coming back again and again. Math Playground is also a "1-stop-shop" for teachers to gather or create their own worksheets, have students practice facts with flashcards, find word problems, use video tutorials for instruction, or work with interactive manipulatives that are ever-ready at the click of a mouse button (my favorite is the Function Machine!).

Thinking Blocks:

Thinking Blocks is an incredible resource to develop Algebraic Reasoning. Students can learn at their own pace as they are guided step-by-step through word problems. Using manipulatives, students are able to work out the problems in the "Build Your Model" section and get feedback and guidance on how to solve the problem from the "tutor." In the "Practice" section, students get a video tutorial showing how to solve the type of problem they're working on. There's even a "Modeling Tool" where teachers can create their own problems to work on with students during direct instruction or to print out for independent work.

Math Apprentice:

"When are we going to use this in the REAL WORLD?" Ever hear that from your students about the math they're learning? Well, Math Apprentice is the answer to that question. Students enter a video game where they get to take on the role of an intern at one of 8 different companies, offering interesting jobs: Restaurant Owner, Bicycle Designer, Video Game Programmer, Robot Scientist, Computer Animator, Artist, Building Contractor, and Roller Coaster Engineer. Each job incorporates real-world use of math concepts, with activities to complete. This site really hits home the importance of math for students, and opens up opportunities for discussion of how math will connect to their futures.

Colleen King has created more than enough resources and engaging activities with these gems to fill out an entire math curriculum. The tools are completely free (supported by unobtrusive advertising) and are geared towards Elementary and Middle school students with scaffolded activities for learners at all levels. Colleen's work is truly an Internet treasure that will benefit students and improve your instruction.

I'll see you at the Math Playground!