Which One Doesn’t Belong? K-12 Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Which One Doesn't Belong? Math sets

What it is: Which One Doesn’t Belong? is a site I learned about from @TeamBaldwin today. This math site is for students of all ages and challenges them to look at a set of four images and determine which image doesn’t belong and justify their answer. The best part of this site is that each problem has multiple correct responses that can be justified. Students have to think through the differences that they see and then make logical decisions and be able to explain it to others. There are three different categories for Which One Doesn’t Belong including: Shapes, Numbers, Graphs and Equations.

How to Integrate Which One Doesn’t Belong? in your classroom: My favorite part about this site is that there are multiple answers for each set. Students can see how perspective and which attributes you are looking at can change the answer. The site is a great catalyst for critical thinking and problem solving in math (or any) class. Put a problem set up on a projector as a math class starter and ask your students to independently choose their answer and be ready to justify it. Then, as a class, discuss answers. After students have done this once, challenge them to find as many possible answers as they can independently before sharing responses. This site would be a great tie-in with the humanities to discuss perspective and vantage point. Even in something that feels as static as math, perspective can actually make any problem quite dynamic.

Yesterday, @TeamBaldwin used the site this way:

Which One Doesn't Belong? Math setsWhich One Doesn't Belong? Math setsWhich One Doesn't Belong? Math sets

This is a class of kindergarten and first grade students! @michellek107 will be blogging more about the class experience on the class blog, Architects of Wonder if you’d like to read more.

Tips: The graphs and equations appear quite challenging, but even young students can begin making observations about the types of graphs that could lead to some higher-level math discussions.

Media 4 Math: Math in the News

What it is: Media 4 Math: Math in the News helps students view current events through the “prism of mathematics.”  Every week features a new story that makes headlines and the underlying mathematical story gets extracted.  The Math in the News site is a little bit confusing to navigate at first (it isn’t really clear where to find each issue of Math in the News).  Scroll down to see an archive of stories.  Each entry has a Slideshare version of the presentation, a YouTube version or the Math in the News app version.  These presentations are full lessons with embedded background knowledge articles and videos, data  sets, current event explanations and a walk through of how to solve.

In addition to Math in the News, Media 4 Math also has Math Tutorials, Promethean Flipcharts, Powerpoint slideshows, Math Labs, Print Resources, a Video Gallery, Math Solvers and more.  I really like the Math Solvers, students can choose a problem type, input their own data and see a breakdown of how to solve the problem.  The Math Labs include PDF worksheets and YouTube Videos that lead them through real-math problem sets.

How to integrate Media 4 Math: Math in the News into the classroom: Media 4 Math: Math in the News is a fantastic way to help your students make the connection between the upper-level math they are learning and life. I’m fairly certain that every math teacher in history has heard “what are we ever going to use this for?”  This site helps students not only see that math is everywhere, but also walks them through how to think mathematically.  There are plenty of resources that walk students through common mathematical functions.  This site is a great supplement to any math curriculum!

With new content weekly, your curriculum will be fresh and relevant!  Share Math in the News using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, as a math center on classroom computers, individually with laptops or iPads, etc.   Flip your math class and have students explore a Math Tutorial to prepare them for the next day of learning.  Then they can test a few scenarios in Math Solvers and come up with their own explanation of the concept.  In class, students can work with you to solidify and practice the learning.

Tips: Sign up for the free weekly newsletter to have Math in the News delivered right to your inbox.  Do you have a classroom iPad?  Math in the News now has an app!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Math in the News in your classroom.

Brown Sharpie: Mathematical Cartoons Inspired by Sharpie Fumes

What it is: Math geeks, eat your heart out…Brown Sharpie is for you!  I found Brown Sharpie by accident today as I was perusing the app store in iTunes.  Brown Sharpie is a collection of “mathematical cartoons inspired by sharpie fumes” drawn by Courtney Gibbons.  Gibbons is an aspiring mathematician and the cartoons were created as she completed her undergraduate and graduate degree.  Many of the cartoons reference higher math and may be too complex to use in the k-8 classroom.  There are a few here and there that could be used with younger students with a little explanation.  High school, college math students and math geeks are the main demographic for these cartoons. The cartoons are shared blog-style so you can search through them using the “next” and “previous” buttons or you can view by tags using the “view by…” word cloud in the right side bar.


How to integrate Brown Sharpie into the classroom: The Brown Sharpie cartoons would be a fun start to math class.  Put a cartoon up on a projector-connected computer each day for a little math humor to kick off class.  The cartoons will give you the opportunity to discuss current math topics as well as give an introduction to math concepts not yet touched on.

Why not hold your own Brown Sharpie day?  Give each student a brown fine-tipped sharpie to create their own math cartoons?  These can be shared on a class blog, website or wiki.  This will help your visual learners and artists think about math in a whole new way!  Students of any age can create a Brown Sharpie cartoon of their own!

In addition to the blog, Brown Sharpie is also a free app in the iTunes app store.

Tips: Some of the cartoons are PG-13 with alcohol or relationship references.  Best to preview the cartoon before displaying before your class. 🙂

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Brown Sharpie in  your classroom!

Number Gym

Number Gym is math software that can be purchased for the math classroom.  However, they have a number of free online activities (examples of their software) that are perfect in the math classroom.  I want to review each of these freebie mini-math games:

Exploring Fractions

What it is:   Exploring Fractions is an interactive way for students to learn about fractions.  Students see the fractions represented graphically and numerically.  As students change the numerator and denominator of the fraction, they see the graphic change accordingly.

How to integrate Exploring Fractions into the classroom:  Exploring Fractions is a great interactive site to teach your students about fractions.  This is a wonderful website to use with an interactive whiteboard for whole class fraction instruction.  Invite students up to the whiteboard to take turns adjusting the numerator and denominator of the fractions.  Have students observe the graphic changes taking place and describe the changes as a class.  Exploring Fractions is also very useful as a math center on the classroom computers.  As students are learning about fractions, they can visit the computer as a visual manipulation center.


Tips:  All parts of the Exploring Fractions website can be hidden (hide the numerator, denominator, or graphic).  This is a nice feature for having students “fill in” the missing information.


Mr G’s Place Value Chart

What it is:   Mr G’s Place Value Chart is a great mini-site to teach students about place values.  The chart has a thousands, hundreds, tenths, and ones column.  Students can drag counters up and down the chart to create numbers.  Every portion of the Place Value Chart can be hidden from view depending on what you are using the chart for.

How to integrate Mr G’s Place Value Chart into the classroom:  The Place Value Chart is an excellent visual manipulative to teach students about place value.  Each time a student moves a counter, the number at the top of the screen adjusts accordingly.  Use the Place Value Chart to teach your whole class with an interactive whiteboard.  Call students one at a time to adjust the number with counters.  Encourage students who are at their seats to observe how the numbers change.  Hide the number at the top and have students move counters and say what the number is aloud as a class.  This is also a great mini-site to set up as a math center in the one or two computer classroom.  As students are working on place value, they can visit the math center for a visual manipulative.  


Tips:  Hide the columns that are not being used to teach with so students aren’t confused by all the ‘extras’.  

Bond Builder

What it is:   Bond Builder is a mini-game that gives students a ‘dot spotter’ that looks like a dice, students add the numbers on the dot spotter and drag it to the correct sum on a dial.  They are timed as they drag the dot spotter cards to the correct location.

How to integrate Bond Builder into the classroom:  Bond Builder is a fun basic addition or counting reinforcement game. This game could be played as a center activity in the one or two computer classroom or whole class with an interactive whiteboard.  See who can get the fastest time and practice those addition facts at the same time!  


Tips:  There are two levels of dot spotters (really just different sets of dot spotter cards).



Table Extender

What it is:   Table Extender is a multiplication game that gives students a challenging multiplication problem and asks them to drag the problem on top of the correct answer.  Students are timed as they go through the various challenges.

How to integrate Table Extender into the classroom:   Table Extender is a  good way to get students practicing their multiplication.  It makes them think quickly and attempt to beat their own fastest times.  Split students into teams and take turns sending students to the interactive whiteboard to solve the problems.  This mini-game would also make for good practice as a computer center in the classroom.  


Tips:  There are three different levels of Table Extender for students to work on.

Getting to Grips with Graphs: Trigonometry

What it is:   Getting to Grips with Graphs: Trigonometry lets students explore the equation y=aSin(bx*+c*) through adjustments to a, b, and c in graphical form.

How to integrate Getting to Grips with Graphs: Trigonometry into the classroom:   This mini-site is a wonderful visual representation of Sin.  Students can adjust a, b, and c and watch the affect of changing numbers on a graph.  Use an interactive whiteboard and call students up to change the values of a, b, and c.  Encourage other students to observe and describe the changes of each value that is adjusted.


Tips:  The scale of the graph can be changed to fit your classroom needs.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Number Gym  in your classroom.

Mathway: Step-by-Step Math Problem Solver

What it is:  Mathway is a website that I initially didn’t appreciate.  The site is a step-by-step problem solver and my immediate reaction was: so we will be helping students cheat?  But, the more I explored the site, the more I saw its value.  The beauty of Mathway is that it is not just a site where students enter an equation and get an answer, the site shows the process of getting to that answer.  It shows them the step-by-step process of obtaining the correct answer.  Mathway has a step-by-step problem solver for basic math, pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, precalculus, and calculus.  It also has a graph section and a math glossary.  


How to integrate Mathway into the classroom: Mathway could be very valuable to students who have notebooks full of notes but get home to solve the problem and are still stumped.  I like that it doesn’t just give students the final answer but leads them to the answer, showing them the process.  This would also be very useful in a large class.  If students are struggling with a problem, they can visit the math center (a computer with Mathway) instead of wasting time waiting for a teacher explanation.  


Tips:  Let parents know about , you will be saving them from the frustration of having to dig into the recesses of their mind to remember how to do some of this, and saving yourself from re-explaining the correct method after parents have guessed and taught students the wrong way.


Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Mathway in your classroom.