Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey
DeVry College                                New Brunswick, NJ

30 October 2002
A Hands-On Symposium:
Using Computers to Enhance Mathematics Instruction

 The MATH FORUM: A Portal to Mathematics Resources For Teachers and Students

Shelly Berman  (shelly@mathforum.org)

The Math Forum, now part of Drexel University in Philadelphia, is an online community of teachers, students, researchers, parents, educators, and citizens at all levels who have an interest in mathematics and math education. The Math Forum has been consistently recognized as a leader in its field, and continues to provide high quality content and useful features, attracting about 8 million pageviews each month.
Problems of the Week - http://mathforum.org/pow/
The Problems of the Week are designed to challenge students with non-routine problems, and to encourage them to explain their solutions. Anyone with access to the Internet can view and print the problems, and anyone with an active e-mail account can submit a solution.

To get a clearer idea of what these problems are like, let's actually DO a few:

Problem #1

Problem #2

Problem #3

Problem #4

Problem #5

Many schools and home-schoolers are now using the PoWs as part of their math programs. To better meet the needs of our students and teachers, there are two main changes to the Problems of the Week this year.

First, we will be scoring submissions using a scoring rubric so that students can learn more about how they are doing. You are invited to read about the rubric in detail.

Second, we have reorganized and renamed some of the problems to better reflect the math content included. There are now five PoW services, each of which provides problems that are "live" (i.e., open for the submission of solutions) for a two-week long period.

The current PoWs are:
• Math Fundamentals PoW, offering problems in numbers, operations and measurement, as well as introductory geometry, and data & probability;

• Pre-Algebra PoW, for students learning algebraic reasoning, identifying & applying patterns, and ratio & proportion;

• Algebra PoW, targeted for students learning and exploring introductory algebra;

• Geometry PoW, offering problems concerning topics commonly covered in a high school geometry course;

• Pre-Calculus PoW, designed for students who have completed at least first year algebra and geometry courses; topics might also involve probability, statistics, discrete math, and trigonometry.

In the past there were six Math Forum Problems of the Week (PoWs): Elementary, Middle School, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry & Calculus, and Discrete Mathematics, and the archives of the problems and their solutions remain intact.

A number of teacher-friendly features are noteworthy.
• A Library of Problems of the Week organizes the problem archives for browsing by mathematics or story topic, rates problems for difficulty level, and provides for keyword searches; the archive of each problem includes notes from the administrator about different approaches to a solution and common errors, as well as actual student work.

• A "Print This Problem" link is provided to allow problems to be printed with a simple "Math Forum Problem of the Week" header, so they may be used without indicating a course or grade level.

• A page of Teacher Support is being developed for most problems, and each include connections with math topics, related notes from the Ask Dr. Math and Teacher-2-Teacher archives, and an alignment with NCTM Standards. Here's an example Teacher Support page from a Congruent Rectangles problem.

• A teacher can establish her own Teacher Account that will track her students' activity, including the number of submissions, when each student last submitted, and allow the teacher to see the entire "threads" of students' responses, including exchanges with a mentor, specific revisions, etc.

• The Problem of the Week Discussion Group at http://mathforum.org/discuss/pow-teach/, was established to facilitate conversation around the Math Forum's Problems of the Week, including discussion about a specific problem, or ways to best use the PoWs within an instructional program.

Please note that we are always seeking teachers who would like to contribute problems, as "seed" ideas or fully developed PoW items to be posted (with attribution noted, of course). Please feel free to contact the PoW Administrator, Annie Fetter at annie@mathforum.org.

Also note that the Math Forum is capable of partnering with schools or districts who are interested in ceating their own "customized" version of a Problem of the Week environment, to support local standards, students, teacher professional development, and more. Please contact Kristina Lasher at kristina@mathforum.org for more information.

Internet Mathematics Library - http://mathforum.org/library/
The Math Forum continues to collect, organize, catalog and annotate math-related web sites from diverse sources in the Internet Mathematics Library. You can search or browse through well over 7,000 items in the collection, organized under the headings of Mathematics Topics, Resource Types, Mathematics Education Topics or Educational Level. "Drilling down" from a heading takes you to a set of subcategories, selected sites, and all sites in the category.
Ask Dr. Math is an ask-an-expert service in which anyone can pose a math question at any level. A cadre of volunteer 'doctors' select and respond to problems of interest. In addition to a searchable archive of over 5,000 questions and answers, there is:
• a set of nearly 50 Frequently Asked Questions, including items about multiplying a negative by a negative, permutations and combinations, the Fibonacci sequence, Pascal's Triangle, and more;

• a Classic Problems page, including such favorites as the Tower of Hanoi, or "two trains leave from different cities at the same time ...", or "how large must a group be so the probability of at least two people having the same birthday is ...", etc.;

• a Formulas page, which shows formulas for area, perimeter, and volume of a variety of figures, the connections between coordinate systems, trigonometric relationships, and more.
Teacher2Teacher - http://mathforum.org/t2t/
Teacher2Teacher, like a virtual teacher's lounge, is an environment in which questions are asked and opinions are shared about topics across the broad spectrum of interest to teachers, including classroom techniques, activities, resources, etc. The archive contains over 500 questions and their related discussion threads, including public discussions as issues are explored and opinions expressed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in the T2T service can be accessed at http://mathforum.org/t2t/faq/.

You are encouraged to join T2T to receive the Teacher2Teacher Community Update, which contains community news and related items of interest from the Math Forum. The application form is at http://mathforum.org/discuss/t2tcommunity/notify.ma.
Math Forum Searches - http://mathforum.org/grepform.html
We have over 300,000 pages of content, so this is quite an extensive search field. Given that ours is a full text searcher, you may want to focus a search in a specific area, or use the "that exact phase" and "complete words only" options.

Efficient searching is an art. You will find our Searching Tips and Tricks page helpful, and our Search Features page offers even more detail about such items as the "Starting Points" that are generated for many keywords and topics, and the automatic spell correction. These features are the result of the on-going design efforts to make the search environment more user-friendly. We invite you to contact the webmaster@mathforum.org to clarify any unresolved confusion or questions.
Teacher Exchange - http://mathforum.org/te
The Math Forum is committed to building upon the activity of the teachers, students, and researchers who use it. The Forum provides a platform and the opportunity to share excellent resources and materials with colleagues world wide.

Our electronic newsletter is sent out via e-mail once a week to those who subscribe, and is archived on our site. It offers tips about what we have at the Math Forum and how to find it, notes about new items on the site or on the Internet, questions and answers from services like Ask Dr. Math or the Problems of the Week, suggestions for K-12 teachers and students, and pointers to key issues in mathematics and math education.
Discussion Groups & Projects - http://mathforum.org/discussions/
The Math Forum's discussion archive include many mathematics and math education-related newsgroups, mailing lists, and Web-based discussions, such as the pow-teach discussion mentioned above, as well as math-teach, numeracy, geometry-pre-college, k12.ed.math, sci.math, etc.