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Magazines > MultiMedia & Internet@Schools > January/February 2004
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Vol. 11 No. 1 — Jan/Feb 2004
CyberBee
Math Destinations
By Linda C. Joseph • Columbus Public Schools • Library of Congress

Mathematics is the study of the measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities and sets using numbers and symbols. It is also dazzling, magical, perplexing, challenging, cool, awesome, and fun. Research has shown that the more-abstract concepts become more concrete when modeled onscreen and guided by teachers.

Center for Technology and Teacher Education: Mathematics

Teaching students how to think mathematically through hands-on technology is one of the goals at the Center for Technology and Teacher Education. The focus for this project was developing lessons around graphing calculators, Geometer's Sketchpad, Microsoft Excel, the Explore Math.com Web site, Global Positioning Systems, and MicroWorlds Logo. Activities range from Collecting and Numerically Analyzing M&M Data to Exploring Geometric Constructions of Parabolas. Files for completing the activities can be downloaded into your software programs.

Coolmath4kids

Elementary students will love the Lemonade Stand. It's a great way to introduce variables and business economics. The Tower of Hanoi is a game of skill and logic in which rings must be moved from one pole to another in the proper order by size. Dozens of other thinking games will keep students occupied for hours.

Count On

Count On is an awesome site that features games, puzzles, mysteries, and competitions for all ages. In the game Dino Dig, students learn how to plot the X and Y axes while looking for dinosaur bones. In Math Mysteries, students can help Dottie Double fix the computer and tally votes at the Pop Awards. For teachers, there is a database of problems to search and use in the classroom.

Educational Java Programs

WOW! These Java applets, complete with instructions and lesson plans, were designed for teachers to use in the math curriculum. Within these interactive programs, students choose correct coins or bills to pay for things, set the correct time on the clock, and explore basic math skills with integer bars. In addition, students learn about base10, the Pythagorean Theorem, fractals, and Pi.

Eisenhower National Clearinghouse

One of the most comprehensive databases of math and science resources is located at the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse (ENC). Searching this site's online catalog will return a wealth of information, including content descriptions, appropriate grade levels, pricing, and sources for selected materials. The complete National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics is available here, accompanied by extensive background information. Another useful feature is the Digital Dozen, a monthly list of Web sites highlighting the best in math and science on the Net.

Figure This

Does it make a difference where you shop? How could I send the check and not pay the bill? Involve families in learning math by sending students home with challenging problems. In these two examples, students interpret graphs, compare prices, and examine probability. Students can move on to more difficult problems, which help them to think about other possibilities. There are more than 75 challenges available that are indexed by the title of the challenge and math category. Figure This is a joint project of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, and Widmeyer Communications, with support from the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Fun Mathematics Lessons by Cynthia Lanius

Loads of lessons can be explored at this super site. Lanius has designed practical, fun ways to teach math in the classroom. For instance, the unit on fractals begins with, "Why study fractals?" Then, it continues with making fractals and culminates by answering a series of questions based on the experience. The Jurassic Park fractal is really cool to make. Some of the other lessons are Stressed Out: Slope as Rate of Change, Mathematics of Cartography, Rectangle Pattern Challenge, and Million Dollar Mission.

Google

Widely viewed as one of the best search engines on the Web, Google has expanded its features to include a calculator. Simply type in the calculation such as sqrt(9) or 2•6/3, then press the enter key for the answer. The calculator understands many different units, as well as many physical and mathematical constants. Experiment with various weights and measures, including pounds, cups, and kilometers. It won't replace the graphing calculator, but it is an easy-to-use tool for checking calculations.

H.I.P. Pocket Change

Make your own change, learn how coins are made, and find out the latest news from the U.S. Mint. H.I.P. Pocket Change is a fabulous site for elementary students who are interested in beginning a coin collection. Download lesson plans with lots of ideas for using the 50 State Quarters Program.

Illuminations
(National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)

Illuminations promotes engaged learning and problem solving with hundreds of lessons and activities for teaching math standards. It is organized by grade level and content area. Not to be missed are the iMath investigations built around interactive math applets and video clips. Some examples include Creating, Describing, and Analyzing Patterns to Recognize Relationships and Make Predictions (Grades Pre-K-2); Representing and Interpreting Data Using Spreadsheets and Graphing Software (Grades 3-5); Simulating Probability Situations Using Box Models (Grades 6-8); and Understanding Ratios of Areas of Inscribed Figures Using Interactive Diagrams (Grades 9-12). In addition, this site can serve as a model for creating effective standards-based math lessons.

Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles

Stretch student minds with a variety of math puzzlers. Using Java applets, Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles puts theory into practice. All sorts of mathematical questions are explored beginning with a hypothesis or premise followed by an actual problem or model to solve. Readers are invited to e-mail alternate solutions and join in the CTK Exchange, where answers may be posted and questions raised. Use this site as a resource for the problem of the day or challenge of the week. Choose from a multitude of stimulating activities. Impress your friends with math magic and do not forget to check the eye-opener series. This site encourages problem solving of unusual and interesting problems.

Math Forum

Browse or search this gold mine of math Web page links maintained by Drexel University. Click on "Math Resources by Subject" for a variety of curriculum treasures. Ask Dr. Math for help with sticky problems via e-mail or scan the FAQ section for answers to common questions. The Math Forum is home to projects that encourage students to use math problems, including the "Math Problems of the Week." Solution activities may include guess and check, make a list, draw a picture, make a table, or act it out. Volunteer math mentors follow up student submissions with personal correspondence.

A Maths Dictionary for Kids by Jenny Eather

Jenny Eather, an Australian primary teacher, needed a reference resource for her students. In her quest to meet that need, she learned Flash and created a dictionary that is animated, interactive, and allows students to practice. Click on "billion" and discover that you have 10 billion brain cells working for you right now. Roll your mouse over the world time zone chart and you instantly know the time for that part of the world. Over 500 terms are explained in simple language. Every math teacher should bookmark this Web site.

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives

Program a ladybug to move through a maze, use base ten blocks to model grouping in addition, illustrate a fraction by dividing a shape and highlighting the appropriate parts, or investigate probabilities of sticking with a decision, or switching. These are only a few of the many computer-based manipulatives that have been created to help students visualize mathematical relationships and applications. Number and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis, and probability are the topics covered. This site was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Pi Day

Looking for an idea to help students conceptualize Pi [¼]? Then, celebrate Pi day on March 14. This date corresponds with the first three digits of ¼ (3.14). "Pi Day" has become a festival in many classrooms as students investigate its value by approximating the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of the circle. Have students problem solve the activities included at this site to reinforce the concept. Bake a pie as a special treat on Pi Day! After this experience, students won't forget the number.

Project Interactive

Sort colored shapes into a Venn Diagram. Practice estimation skills by determining the number of objects, length, or area. Encode and decode messages. Work with spinners, graphs, and all sorts of interactive gadgets while learning math concepts. Teachers will appreciate the scripted lessons to follow when using the activities and discussions. Each lesson gives prerequisites, preparation instructions, a suggested outline, and alternate outlines.

Kindling the Fire

"A mind is a fire to be kindled, not a vessel to be filled."

­Plutarch

Many of the sites reviewed in this article feature interactive problem-solving lessons and activities. Find a lesson that fits into your math curriculum, encourage students to think and ask questions while solving the problem. Then, watch the fire ignite!

Be sure to visit CyberBee [http://www.cyberbee.com] for more curriculum ideas, research tools, and activities to use with your students and staff.

 

Math Destinations

Center for Technology and Teacher Education: Mathematics
http://www.teacherlink.org/content/math/home.html

Coolmath4kids
http://www.coolmath4kids.com

Count On
http://www.counton.org/

Educational Java Programs
http://www.arcytech.org/java/java.shtml

Eisenhower National Clearinghouse
http://www.enc.org/

Figure This
http://www.figurethis.org/

Fun Mathematics Lessons by Cynthia Lanius
http://math.rice.edu/~lanius/Lessons/

Google
http://www.google.com

H.I.P. Pocket Change
http://www.usmint.gov/kids/

Illuminations (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)
http://illuminations.nctm.org

Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles
http://www.cut-the-knot.com/

Math Forum
http://mathforum.org/

A Maths Dictionary for Kids by Jenny Eather
http://www.amathsdictionaryforkids.com/

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
http://matti.usu.edu/nlvm/nav/vlibrary.html

Pi Day
http://mam2000.mathforum.org/t2t/faq/faq.pi.html

Project Interactive
http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/


Linda Joseph is the author of Net Curriculum: An Educator's Guide to Using the Internet, published by CyberAge Books. The recipient of numerous awards, in addition to her work in the Columbus Public Schools and the Library of Congress, Linda is a part-time instructor for Ohio State University. Communications to the author may be addressed to her at Columbus Public Schools, 737 East Hudson Street, Columbus, OH 43211; 614/365-5277; ljoseph@iwaynet.net.
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