Summer Homework for Math Teachers – 5 Websites You Need to Spend an Hour at and Steal Amazing Resources for Your Classroom This Fall.

Posted by on Jul 28, 2017 in Elementary, High School, Middle School | No Comments

Sara Van Der Werf

Teacher, Minneapolis South High School

MCTM Past President

I have not used a math textbook with my students since returning to teaching 4 years ago.  My curriculum is the Minnesota State Math Standards.  (we have never  been a common core state).  I follow my district’s pacing of units, unit length and common assessments.  Beyond that I collect the resources I use from a variety of places.  You may not be like me and follow a textbook.  No matter who you are, there are a ton of resources for math educators online that we will all find useful.

I have known about the following 5 sites for years and during the busy school year I find myself thinking “I need to spend an hour here and ‘right click, copy and save’ so many things from this site.”  So this summer I am spending 1 hour at each of the 5 websites below. I have 8 word docs (one for each unit I teach) ready to add all the resources I find.  You can organize what you find any way you like.  Join me in doing some teacher summer homework and search these sites with me.

#1 Don Steward’s Resources 

You know a resources is good when your favorite math blogs and people on twitter keep referencing their use of Don’s resources.  His blog, ‘Median. Don Steward’, is rich.  Rich.  You may spend more than 1 hour.  This site is a GOLDMINE.  So good. Check out just a few of the things you can find there.

  • This picture is from his most recent post asking us to find equivalent fraction visuals.  
  • Check out this post on the classic ‘which is the orangiest’ ratio task.  Love the visuals.
  • Check out this bloggers take on one of Don Steward’s task for finding the mean by leveling piles.
  • Here are a random sampling – this is the tip of the iceberg.

#2 Open Middle

K-12 Resource.  I L.O.V.E. O.P.E.N M.I.D.D.L.E problems.  If you’ve not checked them out, do it today.  I am so attracted to the problems at this site.  I love that they often result in multiple answers.  I love that they cause students a headache for a while – the answers are not obvious.   I love that the headache caused is not impossible and that all students have access into solving each task.  I love that these problems are meant to be worked on in collaboration with others.  I love that these tasks foster rich discussion.

BONUS:  There are several other sites with amazing with collections of similar problems.  If you need more ideas check out anyone of the following.

#3 Visual Patterns

K-12 Resource.  Fawn Nguyen’s collection of 200+ visual patterns you can use at all levels (K-12+) is an amazing resource for giving a visual to the math patterns & functions you teach.  As a secondary teacher I went through these and copy & pasted these into groups in my curricular by equation type (linear, quadratic, exponential).  I use them all the time when I teach.  I could share my sort with you, but you will learn more doing it yourself and like me naturally brainstorm how you can use these in your classroom many, many times throughout the year.  My favorite all time pattern is the ducks pattern.  I blogged about it HERE.  

#4 David Wees New Vision Math Curriculum 

6-12th grade resource.  One of my favorite people to follow on twitter is David Wees.  He and others have put together a free online math curriculum called ‘New Visions Math Curriculum’.  What is great about this curricula is that is full of resources for multiple best practice instructional routines.  Two of my favorite are ‘Connecting Representations’ (#connectingreps) and ‘Contemplate then Calculate’ (#cthenc).

I highly recommend clicking through the units, big ideas and lessons.  Scroll down and look at every resource -especially the instructional routines.  It takes time, but I promise it is worth it.  I plan to use several of these in my classroom this fall.  Here are just a taste.  There is a lot more description on these at the site.  One other tip – search the hastags #connectingreps & #cthenc on twitter for more ideas and resources.

#5 Math Assessment Project (MAP) – MARS Tasks

K-12 resource.  MAP from the Math Assessment Resource Services (MARS) is tasks, lessons and assessments.  There is great stuff here if you dig.  I love their card sorts (and now turn these into desmos card sorts).  I tweak and use their stuff a lot of different ways.  Spend some time here looking.  Search the units you will teach this fall and see what will enhance what you already do in class.

BONUS:  A few other places I love.

  • nRICH.  So many great tasks here.  I loved using the tasks to find out how they found the prices of windows as introductory to solving equations found HERE and then in an extension HERE.

If you spend an hour at these 5 sites.  I promise you will have more things than you know how to use next school year.  Share these 5 sites with your math friends not on twitter.  It is a great place for them to start and fall in love with what #MTBoS has to offer.

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