Mathigon: engage, play, and explore math

Mathigon explore, engage, play with math

What it is: Today I was working on our inquiry block framework for the 2017/2018 school year and, as often happens with inquiry, fell down a wonderful rabbit hole that led me to this site. Mathigon is a fantastic *newish* math site (it’s still being built and added to) that brings textbooks to life. I know you’ve probably seen this claim before, but this is unlike the other online interactive textbooks I’ve seen. It’s more…alive. It’s like a personalized tutor, combined with story, and exploration. Really, textbook is the wrong word, because this is something totally new. A chat bot tutor makes Mathigon like having an additional team of teachers in the room, ready to answer questions and support your learners in real time. Real life application and narrative is part of the Mathigon DNA. This means that beyond learning the “rules” of math, learners are actually invited to engage the concepts, play with them, explore them in context, and find out what other concepts they are linked to. Rather than a linear approach, Mathigon lets students explore math in a more organic way through interest, linked ideas/concepts, and in a ‘down the rabbit hole’ approach. There are very few math sites that I’ve come across that truly support an inquiry approach to learning math, Mathigon is one such site.

How to integrate Mathigon into your classroom:  There are several ways to use Mathigon. Students can get a personalized math curriculum that adapts to them and offers recommendations based on what they are interested in and their understanding of different concepts. They can begin from several places: exploring the applications of math in every day life, the link between math and origami, Eureka Magazine (published by Cambridge University), through problems and puzzles, through fractal fiction, or through courses for grades 6-college.

The Treasure Hunt is a complete PDF Kit that can be downloaded and printed out. Split your students into teams and send them on an epic math treasure hunt through your school (available in primary and secondary levels) where each of the clues leads them to another.

Fractal fiction is particularly cool because it lets students explore mathematical concepts through interactive narrative of popular films including Alice in Wonderland, Oceans 11, and Harry Potter (the latter two are coming soon). You really have to go experience these to really understand the brilliance of how Mathigon has combined story with math exploration.  From the site: “The key to successful teaching is captivating storytelling – through real life applications, curious examples, historic background, or even fictional characters. These interactive slideshows combine an engaging narrative with beautiful graphics – explaining mathematical ideas in the context of popular stories and movies. They can be watched individually or be presented in classrooms.”

I cannot say enough about how impressed I am with the vastness of what this site brings to the classroom. Even if you don’t have the capacity for each of your students to have an account with Mathigon, the site can be easily adapted for the one computer classroom (as a center activity). Much of the content could also be explored as a whole class with a projector-connected computer.

Tips: I’ve found that really well done content for grades 6-12 (and beyond) in math to be severely lacking. This is a welcome addition to the math teachers tool box of resources!

Math Trail: Powered by GoogleMaps

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 1.35.34 PM

What it is: Math Trail is a neat way for students to explore virtual trails that lead to a variety of locations connected by a theme.  Along the way, students put their math and geography skills to the test.  The trail list currently has eight trails to choose from, with varying degrees of difficulty.  Students can choose an Olympic trail, 7 Wonders, Towers, Rivers, Eminent Mathematicians, Famous Islands, Cricket or Ramanujan trails. To begin, students choose a trail and then click on the “start” button.  A list of instructions pops up.  In each trail, math questions are hidden around the map.  Students zoom in within the map to the location suggested by the clue.  There are little balloons located all over the map.  If students struggle to find the location, they can click the “show location” button at the bottom.  At the bottom of the page, there is a white box that holds clues.  When students reach a location, they are given a math challenge to complete.  At each location, students have the opportunity to earn a gold coin.

How to integrate Math Trail into the classroom:  I like the integration of history, geography, social studies and math in this game.  Students aren’t just going through a series of multiple choice math problems.  Instead, students are set forth on a journey and asked to locate various places according to the clues given.  This means that as their math skills are put to the test, they are exercising that geography muscle as well!  I don’t know what it is about maps, but they are just fun to explore.  The treasure hunt nature of Math Trail keeps it interesting.  Students get math practice and geography practice along the way.  This beats the practice set that is in the textbook!

I found some of the “low” and “medium” level questions to be challenging.  Before playing with students, go through the trails to find the challenge that is most appropriate for your students.  This could mean that you have students playing different trails.  The low end seems to be 6th-7th grade math with the Medium being middle school and the High being high school.

These trails are great for exploring on their own, but you could have students go through a trail together using the interactive whiteboard.  Give each student an opportunity help the class search for the location (the class can help or bring in a Google search for particularly difficult clues).  Each student can work out the math problem on their own and then come to a consensus of which answer to play in the game.

Tips: I wish that Math Trail provided a cheat sheet of all of questions in the game so that teachers could choose a trail for their students at-a-glance.  If anyone has done this, let us know where to find it!

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

Mangahigh: k-12 math games

What it is:  The title of this post is a little underwhelming- I had a hard time expressing ALL that this site does in one line.  Mangahigh is a game based learning site where students can learn all about math. What is unique about Mangahigh math learning games is the way that the learning topics are addressed.  These aren’t your typical drill/skill math games that only address the four basic operations or introductory algebra skills.  The games adapt in difficulty to student levels as they play.  Games continue to challenge students without getting too difficult too quickly and frustrating kids.  The Mangahigh games encourage students to observe, hypothesize, test, evaluate and conclude. All games are based on the Common Core standards making it easy to integrate the games into your current curriculum.  Teachers get their very own login to Mangahigh where they can assign challenges, track student progress and use the games as a form of formative assessment.  The mathematics topic in Mangahigh are geared for elementary, middle and high school students (I am a big fan of site that meet a variety of ages and needs!).

How to integrate Mangahigh into the classroom:  Mangahigh is a great way to shake up your math classroom while injecting it with a big dose of fun, discovery and challenge.  The best way to use Mangahigh is in a one-to-one setting where each student has access to the Mangahigh site.  This makes it easy for students to work at their own pace and for you to track progress.

Mangahigh would be a great way to tailor what your students are working on so that each child is getting challenged at the level they need.  Use the built-in analytics to help inform decisions about where to go next with your students.

Don’t have access to a one-to-one environment?  Don’t discount Mangahigh yet.  The site could be used in a one or two computer classroom as a math center.  Rotate your students through the center throughout the week.  Those who have computers at home can continue the learning there.  Mangahigh would be a great way for students to continue their learning.

Tips: Do you have a pen pal or collaborating school?  Mangahigh will let your students engage in a Fai-To where they can have a friendly little math smack down competition.

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

Off-Road Algebra: Using off road motorcycling videos to learn Algebra

What it is: Off Road Algebra is a series of video resources focused on pre-algebra and algebra for ninth grade.  This Hot Chalk  unit centers around off-road motorcycle racing.  There are 30 related problems for off-road algebra, each with an accompanying digital resources.

Problem 1: Conversion between gallons and liters

Problem 2: Miles per gallon

Problem 3: Gallons per mile

Problem 4: Velocity x time = distance, Part 1

Problem 5: Velocity x time = distance Part 2

Problem 6 (not available)

Problem 7: Comparing decibels

Problem 8: (not available)

Problem 9: Slopes and Ramps, Part 1

Problem 10: Slopes and Ramps, Part 2

Problem 11: Playing catch up, Part 1

Problem 12: Playing catch up, Part 2

Problem 13: GPS Axis

Problem 14: GPS conversion

Problem 15: GPS distance

Problem 16: Mixing Gas and Oil

Problem 17: Margin of Victory

Problem 18: Lap Time Math

Problem 19: Trac Turn Angles

Problem 20: Number of Revolutions

Problem 21: Inside and Outside a Wheel

Problem 22: Choosing between mean and median

Problem 23: Cylinder Volume

Problem 24: Comparing the Volume

Problem 25: Graphing the Ride

Problem 26: Acceleration, Part 1

Problem 27: Acceleration, Part 2

Problem 28: Acceleration, Part 3

Problem 29: Calculating with the contact patch

Problem 30: Tire Aspect Ratio

How to integrate Off-Road Algebra into the classroom: If you have spent any time in a math classroom, I’m sure you have heard something to the effect of, “why would we ever need this in real life?”.  It is a good question.  Learning should look like life…after all, isn’t that the point?  Off-Road Algebra helps students understand how the concepts they are learning in algebra are related to life through the world of off-road motorcycles.  Math is more than just filling in the correct answer on a test. Math is everywhere and we need to help students see that.

These videos walk students through off-road motorcycling problems so that they can make the connections between the classroom and life beyond the classroom.  There is a printable PDF that you can download that has thorough explanations and answers for all 30 problems. You can also find a correlation between the math problems and standards.

Use these videos with your whole class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Video is ideal for math because it gives students the ability to pause, rewind and replay as needed.  Using an IWB with built-in IWB software, students can annotate over the desktop to solve equations as the video plays.

The videos are a great alternative to the standard math textbook, offering video explanations of how to solve a variety of problems.  Students can use these to support work in the classroom or at home.  The videos could make a quick-stop center activity in the one or two computer classroom.

Tips: Be sure to check out Hot Chalks other real-world math problems.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Off Road Algebra  in your classroom!


Study Blue

What it is: Study Blue is a very handy study tool for high-school and college students that works the way they do.  Students can use it to store notes and create flashcards.  Study materials are then accessible anywhere that students have an internet connection and even from their phone.  Best of all, it is free to sign up and get started!  Study Blue helps students study more efficiently by keeping track of what students have already mastered, and what they still need work on.  This makes studying focused and productive.  Students can easily create flashcards based on their notes and use those flashcards to study online or from their phone.  Study Blue is logically organized (by class) making keeping track of study materials easy.  Students can invite classmates to add to the notes or study materials from within Study Blue. Students can even upload notes they have taken outside of Study Blue. As students are creating flashcards and notes, they can enter text, audio recordings, and images. Even better, Study Blue has a library of special characters that can be inserted into notes and flashcards-perfect for math and language studying.

How to integrate Study Blue into the classroom: What makes Study Blue so brilliant, is the way that it works for students.  The features within Study Blue are robust enough to stay up with students needs, but simple enough that it will get used often.  Study Blue is a must-recommend to students. I love the way that Study Blue pays attention to what has already been mastered, and works with students to strengthen study habits.  The ability to share within Study Blue means that students can work together to share resources, collaborate, and tackle their studying.  It may be worth creating a teacher account to share lecture notes with students via Study Blue.   Study Blue is a great way to help your students stay organized, and make the most of their study time in a way that makes sense for them.  It is flexible enough to work for any student!

Tips: Students will need an email address to sign up for an account on Study Blue.  Study Blue is a free service to use, they also have an upgrade version that lets students compare notes with others, print notes, combine flash card decks, etc.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Study Blue in your classroom

SPILL! Virtual Team Challenge

What it is: Registration is now open for the Spring 2011 SPILL Virtual Team Challenge for North America.  The Virtual Team Challenge is a real-time, multi-user business simulation that is played over the course of several weeks by high school students in North America.  As a team, students will take on business tasks and challenges that simulate real-world experiences of professional services employees. Each student participant will fill one of the several roles offered on a simulated professional services team and compete against other high school teams to clean up an oil spill in the river of New York City.  When the challenge is complete, Deloitte will make a real donation to the United Way on behalf of the winning team.  Registration is open now and the competition takes place from February 14, 2011 to April 1, 2011.

How to integrate SPILL! Virtual Team Challenge into the classroom: The SPILL Virtual Team Challenge is an engaging, hands-on approach and competition to learn about business, math, and economics. Get your classroom involved in this great learning opportunity and challenge by registering your school, entering students’ names and assigning them roles and teams for the game, downloading the free game and installing it on the school computers, and playing through the tutorial. On February 14 the official competition and game launches. Students can play at their own pace to finish the three game tasks by April 1, 2011.  This is one game that is packed full of learning, provides a realistic experience, acts as a team building exercise, and has the great outcome of providing a donation to the United Way.

Tips: You can learn more about the game platform and Deloitte by visiting the Virtual Team Challenge website.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using SPILL! Virtual Team Challenge in your classroom.

Google Science Fair: Registration open!

What it is: About a month ago I wrote a post about Google Science Fair… great news! Registration is now open 🙂 Google has partnered with NASA, CERN, National Geographic, Scientific American, and LEGO group to create a new global competition.  Students ages 13 to 18 can take part in the competition and compete for prizes including once-in-a-lifetime experiences, internships and scholarships.  Submissions will be accepted between January 11 and April 4, 2011.

From the Google Science Fair website:

Why Google Science Fair?

  • Digital — Students are immersed in a digital world and can be thought of as digital natives. Why not have them investigate, evaluate, analyze, synthesize, and publish their results using an electronic medium that is relevant for them? It is a cost–saving and greener alternative.
  • Global — This program’s reach goes far beyond that of any school site, district, region, or even state. Be among the schools around the world that will be sharing students’ findings with each other.
  • Collaborative — Google tools are all made to be collaborative whether students (and teachers) are in the same classroom or across the Atlantic. Students have the ability to work together anywhere, anytime to investigate a topic or question of interest.

How to integrate Google Science Fair into your curriculum: Google Science Fair is a fantastic opportunity for your students to connect with others globally and work on some scientific inquiry at the same time. Check out the website for full details about the competition and ways that you can integrate it into your classroom.

Tips: Sign up today to receive the Science Fair kit and get your students entered into the competition!

LiveBinders: Chemistry!

What it is: LiveBinders is one of my favorite ways to quickly gather and share information with others.  Whenever someone asks me for a collection of resources, I immediately start gathering them in a LiveBinder.  I have written about LiveBinders in the past, you can read those posts here and here for ideas of how to use LiveBinders in your classroom.  A few days ago a friend asked if I had any good Chemistry websites I could recommend.  I had a few but thought I would call on my Twitter network for their favorites.  This Chemistry LiveBinder is the result.  Thank you PLN for all of your help and recommendations, as usual they were spot on!

How to integrate LiveBinders: Chemistry into your curriculum: If you teach Chemistry (or have a friend who teaches Chemistry) this binder is a great one to pursue! I separated resources into videos, periodic table, games, simulations, and websites.

Don’t teach chemistry but are interested in using LiveBinders?  Here are some ideas for using LiveBinders in your classroom:

Live Binders can be used as online digital portfolios for students.  Any Word or PDF documents that they create can be added to a binder along with any web content that they create.  The binders are easy to keep track of and share.  Each tab can represent a year in school and each subtab can represent a subject within the school year.  The Live Binder can easily be used from year to year creating a digital portfolio. Live Binders can be placed on desktops so that students don’t have to type in long URL’s to access a website.  Everything can be organized and easily updated in a Live Binder for students to access the web through.  This is a great time saver for the computer lab or classroom computers.   Create your own ‘textbooks’ for students to access as a Live Binder.  You can easily add content to it and students can access the materials from any Internet connected computer.  Create an assignment Live Binder with all worksheets and classroom materials.  Students can access any classroom materials from home, no more lost papers!  Students can create Live Binders to keep themselves organized as they complete research projects.  Students could turn in a final project as a Live Binder that includes all of their web research, notes, and final written work.  Live Binders would be a great way to go paperless at your school.  Create a binder with important school information, meeting notes, calendars, etc. for school staff to access.

Tips: Educators are making some really fantastic LiveBinder collections, if you are looking for a specific subject or topic, search LiveBinders, someone may have already created the perfect go to guide!

Yep, that is my smiling face you see in the banner at the top of LiveBinders, I am going to be joining LiveBinders and Dean Mantz on January 12 on for a live podcast.  I hope you will join us too!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  LiveBinders: Chemistry in your classroom!

The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators: FREE ebook!!

I am excited to announce the release of a free ebook: The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators- a comprehensive introduction to using technology in all k-12 classrooms.  Think of this as an early Christmas present!

Richard Byrne from Free Tech 4 Teachers is the brilliant mind behind this ebook.  About a month ago, he approached some of your favorite educators and bloggers (myself included…still can’t wrap my brain around that 🙂 ) to contribute to an ebook.  Today is the release and I have to say, it is pretty amazing!!  I just finished reading through the finished product and have bookmarked some new tools, had my jaw dropped by Silvia Tolisano and her AMAZING Skype guide, and been inspired all over again by fellow educators and administrators.  I am honored to be a part of this incredible resource and guide.  Contributers include: Steven Anderson, Adam Bellow, Richard Byrne, George Couros, Larry Ferlazzo, Lee Kolbert, Patrick Larkin, Cory Plough, Beth Still, me (Kelly Tenkely) and Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano.  Thank you Richard for the outstanding idea and for acting as editor and pulling it all together!

You can read the ebook in it’s entirety embedded below, by following this link, or download it here.

Figment: Writing community for students

What it is: Figment is a brand new website and writing community for students 13 years old and older (middle or high school only!).  This is a place where students can read student writing, share their own writing, connect with other student writers, and discover new stories and authors.  Students will find a community of writers and readers who like to share collaborate, and discuss a variety of topics in the online forum.

How to integrate Figment into your curriculum: Do you have students who can’t get enough creative writing time?  Figment is a perfect match.  Students who love to write can join a community of other students who enjoy to write.  This is a great place for them to share their writing, read other students writing and learn how to give, and accept, critiques and recommendations on their writing.  This is a great place for students to analyze and evaluate each other’s writing.  Have a class of creative writers?  Send all of your students to Figment to share their writing with other students.  Your students can learn and practice providing constructive criticism and netiquette in Figment.  Working with another class from another school, district, state or country?  Send both sets of students on Figment as a platform for sharing and discussing their writing.

*There is no teacher portal for Figment, if your students are using Figment in school, be sure to sign up for an account and monitor your students use of Figment.

Tips: The sign up requires an email address, twitter account, or Facebook account. Make sure your students have one of the three before using Figment in class.

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