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Monday, December 30, 2013

By Request - Ten Helpful Resources for Middle School and High School Math Teachers

Recently, on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page someone asked for suggestions for math resources for grades 7-12. That covers a broad range of topics in math, but I've done my best to cobble together a list of resources that I think will help middle school and high school math teachers and their students. I have not included the obvious option of Khan Academy.

Get the Math is a super website designed to provide teachers and students with Algebra-based mathematics challenges. Get the Math tries to put the challenges in the context of the  "real world" scenarios of fashion design, video game design, basketball, restaurant management, movie special effects, and music production. Get the Math features short videos of professionals explaining and showing how mathematics is used in their professions. After watching the videos students try to complete a series of challenges based upon the work done in the professions of fashion design, video game design, and music production. For example, after watching the Math in Fashion video students have to design a shirt to match a specific price point

A couple of months ago Curriki released a series of six PBL geometry projects that could make geometry interesting and fun for high school students.Curriki's new geometry course features six PBL projects. Each of the projects is aligned to Common Core Standards. The course is not a self-directed course for students. The course is designed to be taught by mathematics teachers who want to incorporate PBL. The projects in the course can be used in sequence or used as stand-alone units. All materials needed for leading the projects are included available on the Curriki site. You will have to create an account and sign-in in order to access the materials. Curriki accounts are free.

Opus is a service that aims to help middle school mathematics teachers discover sample math problems aligned to Common Core standards. To find problems on Opus search by entering a topic and selecting a grade. You can also find problems by clicking the "browse the Core directly" link on the Opus homepage. Either way when you find a problem you can save it to your free Opus account where you can then generate a Word doc or Google Document of all of your saved problems. You can also create an answer sheet in your Opus account.

MathDisk is a service that teachers can use to develop interactive mathematics worksheets. Through MathDisk's "Math Builder" tool you can design mathematics models that your students can use online. The models and worksheets you develop online can also be downloaded to use offline if you also install the MiBook software on your desktop or on your Android device. If you don't have time to create new materials, the MathDisk gallery has pages of models and worksheets that you can choose from. Everything in the gallery, like everything you create through MathDisk, can be downloaded and or embedded into your own website or blog.

TenMarks is a service that offers an online mathematics program designed to supplement your in-classroom mathematics instruction. All of the problems in TenMarks' bank of more than 20,000 are aligned to Common Core standards. Within TenMarks teachers create class rosters and accounts for their students. After creating rosters teachers can assign practice problems to students. Teachers can assign problems based on the Common Core Standards that their students are trying to reach.

If you use GeoGebra in your classroom, you should bookmark GeoGebraTube. GeoGebraTube is a community site for teachers who teach with GeoGebra to share and find a wide range free resources. On GeoGebraTube visitors will find user-created tutorials, lessons, and worksheets. Visitors can search for resources by age group, language, and material type. All materials are freely available for noncommercial re-use.

Math Open Reference is a free online reference for geometry teachers and students. Math Open Reference features animated and interactive drawings to demonstrate geometry terms and concepts. The table of contents on Math Open Reference is divided into four basic categories; plane geometry, coordinate geometry, solid geometry, and function explorer tools. Click on any subject in the first three categories to find definitions, examples, and interactive drawings. In the function explorer category users can select linear functions, quadratic functions, or cubic functions to explore how changes in variables affect the graphed output.

Dan Meyer has a site called 101 Questions on which he is sharing images and videos as prompts for developing math questions. Each image and video has a 140 character field in which you can enter your question. Questions are compiled and can be Tweeted. Take a look at the top 10 to get a feel for what you will find on 101 Questions. I've embedded one of the videos from 101 Questions below. I won't pretend to be able to explain the larger purpose of the site as well as Dan does, so I'll just encourage you to go read his blog post about it. And if you need more background on who Dan Meyer is, watch his TED Talk Math Class Needs a Makeover.

Incredible Shrinking Dollar from Dan Meyer on Vimeo.

ULearniversity is a free site featuring arithmetic and algebra lessons. On ULearniversity you can watch tutorial videos and practice the concepts taught in the videos. ULearniversity provides instant feedback on your practice problems. As a registered ULearniversity user you can track your progress.

Math Shorts is the latest addition to Planet Nutshell's line-up of  animated educational videos. Math Shorts will eventually have twenty videos in the series. Right now the series contains eight animated videos for elementary school and middle school students. Each of the videos has a Common Core standard aligned to it. All of the videos have supporting materials from PBS Learning Media attached to them. The first video in the series is embedded below.



Suggestions welcome: I have never taught math and I'm open to suggestions for resources that should be added to this list. If you have a suggestion please feel free to email me at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers (dot) com. 

Twenty Educational Games About Marine Life

NOAA's Games Planet Arcade offers twenty-five educational games for young students. The games are intended to help students learn about oceans, wildlife, and weather. Twenty of the games address topics related to marine life.

While the games are not terribly complex or fancy, they do offer some solid information for young students. For example, the Humpback Whale Migration game isn't much more than a board game that provides students with information about Humpback whales. As students move across the board they are stopped at spaces offering facts about the annual migrations of Humpback whales.

Sea Turtles and the Quest to Nest is one of the headline games of NOAA's Games Planet Arcade. The object of the game is to help a sea turtle avoid common obstacles on while navigating the ocean and the beach before laying her eggs and returning to the sea.

About half of the games are hosted on NOAA's website and the others are linked to the websites of PBS, National Geographic or the Environmental Protection Agency.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for some simple games to supplement a lesson on oceans, ocean wildlife, or weather, take a look at NOAA's Games Planet Arcade.

WWF Wildfinder - See the Ranges of 26,000+ Animals

One of my favorite free iPad apps of 2013 is the World Wildlife Fund's Together app. That app features interactive stories about endangered species around the world. The stories show you where the animals live and the threats facing them. If you and or your students don't have iPads, you can access similar information through WWF Wildfinder.

WWF Wildfinder is an interactive map through which you can see the distribution of more than 26,000 animals around the world. You can browse the map, search by region and ecosystem, or search for a specific animal. When you find an animal on the map you can open a tab of information about its habitat, whether or not its population is threatened, and view pictures of the animal.

Applications for Education
WWF Wildfinder could be a great resource for students to explore to learn about the species native to various eco-regions of the world. I would have students attempt to make correlations between maps of the distribution of a threatened species to maps about pollution and or population density.

How to Create Simple Comic Strips With Storyboard That

Storyboard That is a service that you and your students can use to create simple comic strips. I've reviewed it in the past and today I would like to share a demonstration of how to use it. The video below demonstrates how to use the basic functions of Storyboard That.


Storyboard That has free and paid plans. The free plan allows you to create three and six frame stories. The free plan also limits you to three storyboards per week. A paid classroom account offers options for managing student accounts, limiting sharing to classroom members only, and a classroom account offers more frames per storyboard.

Apply Today for a National Geographic Teaching Adventure

National Geographic Education is currently accepting applications for what looks like an awesome opportunity for twenty-five K-12 teachers in the U.S. and Canada. The 2014 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program will take teachers on field work expeditions to interesting places around the world. Some of the places teachers could go through the program include Holland and Belgium, the British and Irish Isles, Arctic Svalbard, the High Arctic, Iceland, the Canadian Maritimes, the Atlantic Islands, and Antarctica.

Applications are due by January 5th. You can get the complete details of the program and see a sample application here.

After Kelly Wade Hines tipped me off to this opportunity, I shared this on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page last night, but I'm posting it here because I want to make sure that everyone who may be interested sees it.

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