Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Math-Phobia: Your Days Are Numbered!

Math can be tricky enough for students without special needs, so any help we can offer our kids in this department is a definite plus.
Jenny Eather has created a site she calls "A Maths Dictionary for Kids" which I like very much. She has provided definitions with visual illustrations and interactive activities for elementary math terms for every letter of the alphabet. Handy as a reference or study tool, especially for kids who are visual learners. Many of the interactive screens would work well with an interactive whiteboard for a tactile experience or for large-group lessons. If I had one criticism, it's that sometimes the page is visually quite crowded and some kids won't be able to process all that's there.
Virtual manipulatives are another type of tool to consider. They're not only for students who are visual learners, but also for those who may have difficulty handling regular manipulatives. Also, if you've already got the computers, you're not paying for real manipulatives, so you don't need to be a math wizard to figure out that they can save money, too. Most teachers already know about the excellent National Library of Virtual Manipulatives, which comes in a free online version and a low-cost downloadable application as well. I love the base-ten blocks. Try moving a hundreds block into the tens column and watch it explode into ten 10's. Select ten blocks and they automatically group together to effortlessly stick them together. Works great on an interactive whiteboard!
As for "drill & kill" math games, there are a million of them on the web, but one really stands out. Timez Attack from teaches and drills multiplication facts in an exciting graphical environment. The developers are Playstation programmers, so they know what kids like. Timez Attack comes in a free version and a paid version. The paid version has more graphical environments to play through, but both teach the times tables from 1 to 12.

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