By Teachers, For Teachers
Differentiating instruction is challenging, especially when it comes to teaching students math. This is one subject where all students can be at varying levels at any given time. Some students may have mastered their basic facts, while others just can’t seem to get it. If you don’t have the fundamental building blocks of basic math concepts, then solving equations can be quite hard. For many students, math takes a lot of practice and it just doesn’t come naturally to them. These children tend to attach a negative connotation to math, and think that they just aren’t good at it. Luckily, technology in the classroom has made it possible for teachers to be able to reach a variety of different math levels, all at the same time. Technology in the classroom provides students who have not yet mastered the basics some practice, while providing students who have mastered the basics some challenges. Technology in the classroom has the ability to provide resources for the struggling, while also challenging the students who excel.
Here are a few websites that are designed to meet various learning needs. Students can work on them alone, with a partner, or in a whole group when using an interactive whiteboard.
V Math Live is an online site for students in grades K-8 that offers online math competitions to students across the globe. It’s a fun way for students to master content at their own pace while online. Students face off against other students in real time using the V Math Live program. Students can also see how their competition is doing, answering the same questions as them. The goal is to answer as many questions correct in the shortest amount of time. The learning is structured so that students can work through lessons and earn badges and trophies along the way. There is also a component where V Math Live focuses on mental math skills found in the Common Core State Standards. Overall, it’s a motivating way to get all students who at varying levels excited about math.
This amazing, generous website combines math with feeding the hungry. The Free Rice project helps students practice their math facts, and for every answer that they get right, they will donate rice to those in need. Students can choose basic math, or multiplication. Each time they have a correct answer, the Free Rice project will donate grains of rice to people in need of food all over the world. For example, one correct answer will donate 10 grains of rice, while five correct will donate 50 grains of rice. The more you answer the correct, the more that they will donate. Students won’t just be practicing their math facts, they will be helping the hungry as well. What a great mission idea!
If you are looking for a fun way to boost student engagement and fact fluency, then Arcademics.com is the site you are looking for. There is a wide collection of arcade-like math games that focus on counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, money, time, decimals, algebra, and ratio and proportion. All of the games are research-based and aligned with the standards. Students can play alone or with a partner. Students will love to play games while learning essential math concepts.
IXL Math is a comprehensive online tool that provides math practice to students from grades pre-K-12. It is available for free, but is only limited to a few exercises. A full membership costs $79.95 for the year. Oftentimes your school district will cover this cost because multiple classrooms can use the account. Students partake in independent practice on the math topics that they need to improve upon. For example, 3rd graders have 359 math skills to choose from. Their topics can range from identifying unit fractions to finding the area of a rectangle. Each grade has a different number of math skills that students can work on. The drills increase in difficulty as students reach the challenge mode. Students also get detailed feedback if they answer incorrectly. Overall, this site is a must-have to help students build their math skills as well as their confidence.
Math Playground is a math practice site for students in grades 1-6. Included is an abundance of math and logic puzzles ranging from using a protractor and learning place value to adding two-digit numbers and learning 2D geometry. There is something for each skill level your students may be on.
There are plenty of websites and apps out on the market that can help you entice and engage your students to learn to love math. These five just happen to be what some educators have found to be the most effective and engaging with their students. Try a few or try them all and let us know what your favorite is.
What are you favorite technology in the classroom tools to help students’ individual learning needs in math? Please share your favorites in the comment section below, we would love to hear what works for you.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.