Monday: How are tools (other than Sketchpad, Excel, Fathom and graphing calculators) being used - either in or outside the classroom?
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There are many math tools available on the Internet. What is not clear is how they are being used. In my personal experience, some such as this ordered simple plot and activities such as paper pool can be used in a lab setting. Probability simulators such as the Simulated Experimental Coin-Toss & Dice-Roll Data can be used in the classroom for either large group, small group or individual use. Outside the classroom, students can use simulators and problem solvers like Repeating or Terminating? that can be used to determine the repeating pattern in a repeating decimal. Another use is tools for the teacher such as worksheet generators like this one about fractions.
Do you know of other uses for tools and can you give examples? Comments about the tools welcome as well.
Tuesday: What is/are the biggest problem(s) to using math software tools in the classroom or for the class?
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For me, the largest single drawback to using tools in the classroom is having a medium to present the tool. Some tools are appropriate for large group presentation with a projector, but finding and organizing the information for a presentation can have drawbacks. These would include the necessity of either having a list to type into the address bar, or having to prepare a list of bookmarks in the browser on the computer. Having a web page with the sites listed is another option. Having the same or similar information available for students outside class would require either a prepared, printed set of links (URLs) or an accessible web page with links on it.
Please list the difficulties that limit your use of math tools in or for your class.
Wednesday: Is there good interactive-type software for math before algebra?
Are there K-8 teachers out there either developing or working with developers on interactive math software? What is the good stuff that is being used and what is missing? My current quests are to (1) find a good tool for developing long division skills. (2) locate a good tool for discovering and practicing subtraction from numbers with zeros, e.g. 3004-1789
What do we have and what do we need?
Thursday: Do you think it is important to develop and maintain an independent set of tools, lesson and procedures that are readily available to classroom teachers and students everywhere?
Text publishers are offering on-line tools and activities to enhance their textbooks. While some of these allow teachers to incorporate technology into their classroom, it remains to be seen if they will include the scope or breadth to provide alternate paths to understanding for students.
Will we be able to continue making MathTools relevant or will the lack of time to develop resources result in the math tools being adjuncts to commercial texts?
Friday: What non-tech/low tech tools are teachers using? Should MathTools make a push to include more non-tech/low-tech tools? What areas? How?
This question came about while I was looking for ways for middle school students to model equivalent fractions. I started with unit squares figuring they would be easier to divide. I even developed a set of fraction models that could be printed on overhead transparencies, cut out and stacked to demonstrate the concepts of equivalent fractions. This led to a non-tech device I called the fractionator.
Students can use the device to create and subdivide unit squares. In practice, it turned out that the students who had an idea of equivalent fractions could use the device successfully.
This is an example of my latest version of a non-tech tool. Please let us know yours.