Below is a list of ten resources I think will benefit Nebraska elementary, middle school, and high school math teachers. If you know of any resources, please feel free to leave them in the comments section on this post. I made this list with Nebraska Association of Teachers of Mathematics (NATM) Kearney Annual Conference participants in mind.
IPEVO offers great low-cost technology solutions for educators. Pictured at left is the Point 2 View Document Camera, which offers a low-budget portable document camera for teachers. This is the only product I own from IPEVO, but I have heard great things about the other doc cams and products on the site.
Make tasks in your class time dependent with Online Stopwatch. This free site has different timers and tones from which to choose. If I want a writing or discussion task to be five minutes, I set the count down timer and focus instead on circulating the room and providing feedback and guidance to students.
A desktop scanner allows the teacher to quickly take exemplary work a student has created in class and convert it to a PDF on the spot. The model I use is a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i. Many entities that recognize exceptional teaching, such as the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, require applicants to include student work examples. I have used my iPad in the past to take photos of student work to convert to PDF, but sometimes the ambient lighting can lead to a fuzzy or distorted image. The ScanSnap lets me scan documents directly to my Google Drive and converts the scan automatically to a searchable PDF using text recognition software. This is one of the single greatest personal purchases I have made as a teacher.
Digital file management is critical to teacher success. Keeping organized files allows a teacher to later reflect on lesson plans and activities to maximize efficiency. Dropbox is a reliable file management system that lets educators ditch the thumb drive. Our math department has a Dropbox account we use to post our common lesson plans and assessments. Our teachers can access these files from anywhere. Teachers that prefer to craft materials in the comfort of their own home can do so using Dropbox. Changes to files are made automatically for all users on a shared folder to see.
The following passage comes directly from NCTM's website.
Wolfram Alpha provides students free access to Mathematica, a powerful software package. Wolfram Alpha gives instantaneous access to a Computer Algebra System (CAS). In the spirit of UNL Math Day, above is an image of the prime factorization of 2013, something bowl participants may wish to memorize. Wolfram Alpha also offers some great mathematical oddities like the Nicolas Cage Curve.
While Nebraska has not adopted the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics [yet!], the CCSSM does provide a beautiful outline for a complete picture of K-12 mathematics. The CCSSM shows a progression of skills that build upon each other. Bill McCallum at the University of Arizona is one of the visionaries of the Common Core math movement. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a conference at UNL in 2011. Although ironic a conference on the Common Core was held in a state that does not use the Common Core, Dr. McCallum shared a prolific resource for teachers called the Illustrative Mathematics Project.
I haven't had much time to play around with Desmos yet, but there's a reason why Twitter and the MTBoS both rave about this free product. As a teacher productivity tool, Desmos has great potential. Another added bonus is that Desmos works really well on an iPad right now.
Few things in the development of math instruction historically can stack up against Hohenwarter's masterpiece. The Geogebra Tube community allows teachers to download free materials prepared by other teachers and make the materials their own. It does not matter whether you teach kindergarten or high school calculus, there is something on this site you can use to improve your math instruction immediately at no cost. A couple of Geogebra Kung Fu Masters I know in Nebraska are Jerel Welker (LPS), Dan Schaben (Arapahoe), and Matthew James (LPS).
Many teachers may challenge me on being bold enough to say there's something better out there than Geogebra, but I feel strongly enough to say the Art of Problem Solving website is one of the best resources available to math teachers. Students often express frustration in school because math problems are boring. Much of the thinking is done for the students, particularly in textbook problems. Dan Meyer has a great talk on the thinking we unintentionally do for students.
Two wonderful differentiation resources are available to teachers on the Art of Problem Solving website: Alcumus and For the Win.
Alcumus tracks student progress through curriculum strands. For the frustrated student, the interface offers side quests and tracks experience points like a video game. For example, a student might earn 500 XP by clicking "I Give Up" 250 times in an hour. Students can track their own progress and work through problems at their own pace. The interface gives feedback and shows detailed solutions for every problem.
For the Win! allows teachers to set up localized games among students in a computer lab. The problems come from robust sources like MATHCOUNTS and the American Mathematics Competition. For the Win! lets students make mistakes in a safe environment.
The Art of Problem Solving site has a Youtube channel with videos instructing students on how to do challenging problems from various competitive exams. If you are interested in starting a math club at your high school, this Youtube channel is an invaluable resource for AMC preparation.
Please feel free to share additional resources with me. I appreciate your time and thank you on behalf of your students for taking a look at this blog post. If you would like to email me directly at school, you can find a link to my contact information here.