This week we have been looking at the vast sea of resources available to educators in the form of Web 2.0. As a society, we have changed the way information is both disseminated and received. No longer are lofty academics the only sources of knowledge and consumable content. Today the internet is an exciting collaboration of billions of people, sharing their opinions, thoughts, videos, photos, and anything else that can be digitized. While this can lead to some less desirable outcomes, such as wide spread idiocy and fearmongering from unwashed masses, it has many wonderful results as well. As educators, we now have a bevy of web 2.0 resources that can supplement almost every aspect of teaching. Today I am looking at three different sites that offer many benefits to the modern classroom. Since my focus is high school mathematics, I tried to keep my focus on resources that would be useful in my future classroom. Here is what I have found:
Remind is more than just a website, it is a multi-platform tool that educators can use to easily communicate with their students, student’s families, and entire classes. Remind works as a messaging program, and aims to replace countless reminder notes, printouts, and emails. From their phone, tablet, or computer, teachers can compose messages to send to their students. These messages can also include photos, videos, audio, and other attached files. There is a level of safety in using Remind, because educators do not need to have students’ personal phone numbers to communicate with them, but students can still get the updates on their mobile devices. Communication goes two ways, as students and parents can text their teacher. All of this and the service is entirely free!
This program does coincide with NETS-S standards, particularly the section on communication and collaboration. Remind allows students to communicate in an entirely digital environment. This can be a good tool to help students learn to communicate ideas effectively via only digital messaging. To use Remind, you do need to register for the service, but it is free to do so. Once you are registered, all that is required is the know how to use a mobile device or computer to create text.
This program is very user friendly, and there is ample support online if any questions pop up. This also has a high appeal to students, as they get to use technology they are comfortable with. The only limitations on Remind would be students who do not have a mobile device available to them at home, and the possible drawback of getting students to check a different messaging service regularly. Remind seems perfect for middle schoolers and high schoolers, as the majority of them have a cell phone almost surgically attached to their hand. This might be trickier for elementary school students, but could be used just for parent communication.
Yummy Math is a website that uses real world math problems. By actually seeing practical applications of the math being used in class, student engagement, as well as critical thinking skills, can drastically increase. The site is free, but does ask you to register before allowing you to see all of the content. The content on the site is divided by grade level, and by subject, with every subject having multiple real world problems and examples attached. There are also lesson plan suggestions that can be easily incorporated into any class. In addition to material by subject level, there are frequent updates of current events too. Currently there are some activities involving estimating costs for mother’s day, as well as some probability in playing the insanely high Powerball lottery. There are countless, but well organized lessons that show how math is used every day in real life.
As far as NETS-S standards, I feel this site covers the critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making. It students to manage their activities in groups or individually, as well as analyzing data found online to identify solutions and make informed decisions. To get full access to the site, you must register, but it is quick, free, and very easy to do. From there, you just need basic math skills and a willingness to look at the world as a mathematician.
The main strength of this site is the almost overwhelming amount of well thought out and organized content. You could easily spend an entire semester with students just going through real life applications of math found on this site, and have a ball doing so. There is a high level of involvement for students as well. Some lessons have videos that go along with the information, which should also keep student engagement high. The only limitation I can see in this site is the possibility that a specific content area you are working on has nothing available through Yummy Math, but the creators do respond to messages, and I’m sure would at least help point you in the right direction should you hit a complete wall. This site has content from 3rd grade through high school, so it covers a wide variety of math. I am definitely looking forward to using some of this in my future classroom.
Mathematics in Movies is a site that, much like the name implies, has compiled a huge library of different movie clips that have references or discussions of math in them. The site link directly to the scene being spoken of so they can be easily shown in a classroom, or attached to a message for students to watch at home.
I’m not entirely sure how closely this would link with the NETS-S standards. Math in Movies could possible fall into the research and information fluency content, as it would help students to evaluate and select information from the video clips. The site is easy to use, and requires no registration for access. To use, you simply scroll through the movie clips, click on the one you want, and away you go!
I feel like this site is good for holding student interest. Just having someone else’s voice explaining a concept can help refocus student attention. Really, it just seems like a good resource to supplement an already complete lesson, or to help generation conversation about how the movie compares to what is happening in the classroom. The site is a little difficult to navigate. There is no search available for the site, so you really need to go through and read each title and description to find what you really want. This seems like it would make it difficult to incorporate unless you already had a strong idea going in as to what you wanted to show. For instance, if you remember there was a scene from The Hangover that features various math formulas, then this site could quickly link you to it. The other downside is that this site seems to be primarily comprised of movies from before 2000. Students might not be as interested if they cannot relate to the movie itself. The content covered on this site seems like it would be best suited for high school or even college. I’m sure I would not frequently use it in my classroom, but it’s a good resource to keep around in case you have something specific in mind.
There are countless more sites available in Web 2.0 that can be used to help you out in the classroom, but any more and this post would become even more obnoxiously long, and therefore pretty much unhelpful. That said, here are some links to sites that have rounded up a bevy of these Web 2.0 sites. Explore to your heart’s desire.
K-12 Tech Tools: Open educational resources on a variety of subjects
21st Century School Teacher: a blog page that has compiled a HUGE list of helpful sites, includes small blurbs of what each site can do for you.