**by Marilyn Western**

**Math instruction can be
enhanced by the techie teacher**

Math is such a large part of the school day – and technology can enhance what you’re already doing. If you haven’t already thought of some of these activities, you might want to try one or two on Monday morning.

Have you explored the spreadsheet capabilities of your software yet? My first graders know how to open a spreadsheet file and add more data. They love to create different charts based on their spreadsheet – line, bar, and circle graphs. We have several ongoing spreadsheets – morning temperatures, daily sunrise and sunset, the growth of an amaryllis plant.

Students also make up their own survey questions to ask individuals during free centers time first thing in the morning. They place the data they collect into a spreadsheet and have a chart ready for morning meeting.

To make sure they ask all students in the
class, my surveyors choose a partner to help. This helper has a clipboard
with a special class list which contains pictures of each student next
to the name. I’ve laminated this sheet, so the helper simply checks off
the student with an overhead marker after that student has answered the
survey question. Great software for student generated surveys is ** The
Graph Club **by Tom Snyder.

Want an exciting way to get those younger students really into counting numbers? Bring your class and a 35mm camera outside and take pictures of your students on the playground equipment, but do it systematically. Start out with one student on a swing, then two on the jungle gym, three on the slide, etc. The last picture will be of your whole class (however many that happens to be). After the pictures are developed, you can either set them up as a number center (match the picture with the number word) in a pocket chart, or assemble pictures plus words on a bulletin board or in a photo album for "reading."

Older students equipped with a digital camera (must have the strap around their neck to avoid dropping accidents!) can go for a walk seeking patterns or shapes. Import these into a slideshow program and you have a powerful student-created teaching tool. Or use the digital camera to capture images of students acting out story problems (Carol had seven apples and got five more from Joey. How many does she have now?)

What is more Math-like than using calculators? With the easy availability of calculators today, one would assume that kids would know how to use this technology. But if you’ve ever watched a student enter numbers, you’d be quick to notice that calculators are now held in two hands and thumbs are used to enter data.

Hmmm. Just what does that remind me of??? Unfortunately, it seems kids are much more at home with game consoles than calculators. Some teachers believe that calculators should not be used – the emphasis should be on learning those number facts. Others feel that calculators are a real part of everyday living and kids should be able to use them when needed.

Personally, I feel that students should have a mix and be taught how to choose the most appropriate tool to use, whether it’s a calculator or their brain. Calculators are a neat way to introduce skip counting (2 + 2 + 2 + 2…) and multiplication (five 2’s is ?).

** Kid Pix Deluxe, HyperStudio, PowerPoint
**or

Students at any level can create Math shows
– math vocabulary, definitions, and illustrations, or numbers, numeral,
and illustrations, or counting by 2’s, 3’s, 5’s, or illustrating patterns
(The ABBA Show), or a series of pictures that students draw around a specific
shape. ** Inspiration **can be a handy tool when students are
brainstorming everything they know about a number or math concept.

Draw programs have lots of math possibilities also. Try creating a template (a master copy) of a 100 chart. Students can look for number patterns by coloring squares as they count by 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, etc. Or drag and match objects to determine if the number available is odd or even. Or illustrate place value by using a stamp to show 1’s, make it larger for 10’s, and even bigger for 100’s. Or divide pictures into fractional parts. Or illustrate combinations of numbers.

Scan coins and save in ** Kid Pix**,
then set up a template of stamps with price tags. Students can copy and
paste the correct amount of coins for each "purchase." Glyphs are fun to
do in any draw program also. I start them out with an outline and list
the direction key on the template. Students can either do this individually
(if they can read the directions) or set it up as a center with a reader
available. Print out and display for collecting data about the class.

And, oh! The Internet sites devoted just to math!

**Worksheets**

** • Math
Worksheet Factory Lite** Create your own worksheets complete
with images, answer sheet, and a progress chart to track students!

** • ABCTeach
Math **Worksheets as well
as a gold mine of ideas for 100th Day, graphing, measuring, Roman numerals,
and more.

** • Math
Fact Cafe **Build your own worksheet,
print pre-made, or use the online flashcards.

** • Rick’s
Math Web** features worksheets and basic math tips – great for lower
grades.

** • Math
Problem Solving Worksheets** - for 4th + 5th grade

** • MathCats**
worksheets Created by kids. Can print or do online.

**Interactive Sites for
Students**

** • Funbrain**includes
Math Baseball, Power Football, Change Maker, Fresh Baked Fractions and
more

** • Aunty
Math **features biweekly fun
challenges, so send in your answer!

** • Base
10 Count **is a site at
which to explore place value.

** • Cool
Math for Kids **includes
a treasure trove of math games for Preschool through high school (and this
is just the kids’ section!).

** • National
Library for Virtual Manipulatives for Interactive Mathematics** Choose
a topic & a grade level to see how number lines work, build with pattern
blocks, tesselate shapes, and more.

** • MathCats**
Tessellations, magic squares, multiplication tables, and more.

**Online Flashcards**

** • The
ArithMattack** How many computer-generated arithmetic problems can
you answer in 60 seconds? Use online or download (free).

** • Flashcards
for Kids **Choose type of problems,
complexity, number range, keep score or not, timer on or off.

** • A+
Math **Use the online flashcards
or make your own to print.

** • AllMath**
Optional timer

**Class Projects**

** • Global
Grocery List Project **Collect
local grocery prices and compare to worldwide data

** • Lemonade
Stand **Run a virtual lemonade
stand and try to make some money.

** • Math
in Daily Life **Learn about how
math is used everywhere – good for class discussions and introductions
to various math topics.

**Resources & Ideas**

** • Practical
Money Skills for Students **Lessons,
Games, quizzes

** • PBS
Teacher Source** Lessons & activities

Last updated January 2003