Numeracy has been a focus in many of our school boards for a while now. One thing that we all try and do is find problems that can get our students engaged and that focus on 21st century thinking and learning. Often when you talk about this with other educators the issues that come up over and over again are where do we find these problems, how much time it will take to create the problems and how do we make sure that we are keeping our students engaged.
It's no longer easiest, efficient or most engaging, to open up a textbook assign students questions 1 to 10 and away they go. Not saying that the textbooks don't have valuable information and that they need to be all thrown out, but really what we want to do is have a mix of different resources that meet the needs of our students. With IEPs, differentiated instruction and celebrating the individual students that are in front of us, having a lot of resources at our fingertips is incredibly valuable.
To help me with this gargantuan task, there are a couple of websites that I feel are my go to's.
This website, created by Jo Boaler and the team at Stanford University focuses on brain science and how we learn math. When I first discovered this site I couldn't get enough of it. I was reading it and watching all of the videos and just felt so incredibly overwhelmed and excited by the information. Not only have I felt that it has helped me be a better educator when it comes to numeracy, but it also is helped me understand a little bit more about my own learning and how my learning can help me reach my students. There are so many times that I use problems from this site, I solve them in one way and none of my students solve them the same way. It's helped me to open my mind and see that there isn't one way to solve a problem and by seeing all the different ways to solve that problem I'm actually helping my students to become better thinkers, to become better learners, and to really get a grasp on why they are mathematicians. The website focuses on the fact that there id no such thing as a math person. You are not smart in math or or dumb in math. There are not people who can learn math and people who can't learn math. We all have the ability.
Where to Get Started:
Week of Inspirational Math- My first unit in numeracy and how I start the year!
Setting Up Positive Norms in Math Class- After our unit of inspirational math, these positive norms are glued in the front of our math notebooks and posted as an anchor chart for students to refer to all year long.
This website is created by Robert Kaplinsky, a mathematics educator in Southern California, who focuses a great deal on problem-based thinking and having students solve authentic real problems. One of the things that I love about this site is not only the wealth of knowledge that he clearly has, but the problems that he comes up with are so incredibly engaging. Many of them have a news reports, an article or a movie that gets the students engaged right off the hop. Definitely the “minds on” portion is something that my students always seem to get really engaged by and get excited about. Often the problems that are presented are things that can be silly or interesting, but at the same are applicable to what we're learning. The problems that he has provided have so many different entry points that allows you to present the problem to your class and really see where your students are at.
Where to Get Started:
Lessons- Give yourself some time to get lost in the fabulous engaging nature of each and every lesson. One of my favourites, “How much bigger should they make Zoolander’s school?” HILARIOUS!
This website, created by two math educators, Brian Marks and Leslie Lewis, focuses on real-world, problem based math activities. The activities on this site seem to be endless. There are so many to choose from and all have multiple entry points for students. Many of the activities come with a pdf that has scaffolded questions that help students solve the activities. If you are willing to pay the $24.95 yearly fee, you have access to editable Word docx, Excel file, solutions and teacher tips. Some of the problems even come with student work samples! My favourite thing about the site is the plethora of relevant topics that are covered. The tasks usually follow big news stories or things that are happening at the time, e.g. Christmas, Super Bowl, Black Friday. The list is endless. While I am not one to pay for subscriptions, this one is totally worth it!
Where to Get Started:
One of my favourite activities, “Thank you, mother and father, for all of those diapers.” Will have your students laughing and want to solve!
Add these sites to your favourites and you won't be sorry! What sites do you find you are constantly going back to? I would love to hear from you and add to my list of numeracy nightmare busting sites!