Math can be one of the most daunting subjects for students even when they are physically attending classes in school. Stories of math anxiety abound and it’s not uncommon for many students to become extremely frustrated and feel like they won’t be successful regardless of time spent studying or support given. Now imagine how magnified that feeling might get when students are removed from their classes and asked to learn math remotely. On the educator side, the COVID-19 pandemic has quickly shown that math educators thrown into online learning environments have been struggling with how to assess students and give feedback.
Fortunately, many educators have laid the groundwork over the past few years to provide teachers with opportunities to help successfully deliver online math instruction. Numerous resources and tools, some of which have been developed by educators during this crisis (and which can be found in the Learning Resources section below), are already available online and free for educators to use and, in some cases, modify. These range from simple skills worksheets to interactive games and instructional videos. Once educators have a sense of the scope of what is available to them it becomes easier to leverage existing resources to create activities and lessons that fit the scope of what their instructional goals are.
But the most important piece of advice to follow at a time like this is to remember that this is not online teaching or distance learning the way they’ve been designed to operate over the years. This is crisis teaching. And as such, teachers need to remove the weight of expectations that they might place on themselves under normal circumstances. These are not normal circumstances for you, your families, your peers, or your students. It’s OK use online instructional videos or resources that you didn’t create yourself. But if you do choose to use a resource such as an instructional video and share it with your students, it’s important to ensure that content meets a few guidelines:
- Length of video: Think of your teaching a math concept in class. Ideally, your mini-lesson should be in the 5 to 10 minute range. Videos, which are designed to engage students and hold their attention, should be on the shorter end of that with 5-7 minutes being the sweet spot.
- Quality of math: Don’t assume that just because the video covers the topic you are looking to teach that the teacher uses the same strategies you would in order to teach the concept or that there are no errors. Does the video discuss real-world illustrations of the concept? Does it use language and vocabulary consistent with what you use with your students? While it might be quicker to re-use content rather than create it yourself, you need to consider all of those factors to ensure a video is appropriate for your students.
- Breadth of examples: Some of the best math videos out there are ones that demonstrate how to tackle examples of different concepts and all of the different variations that go along with them. Sometimes pairing up a video that falls short in this area with links to additional sites or videos that cover the topics in greater detail is a good way to go.
While using pre-created content is a great option, there is no denying that students definitely enjoy seeing videos that feature their own teacher. If you do decide to create your own videos, there are a ton of tools and resources out there that allow you to do that. But again, remember that these videos do not call for Hollywood quality production value or sleek video and sound effects. It doesn’t even necessarily require that you have a physical or virtual whiteboard to write on. Recording math videos can be done by simply taking video of you writing on a piece of paper. The following image created by Krissy Venosdale shows how recording a simple Zoom meeting using your mobile device and a laptop or Chromebook can create a great video recording:
Pairing each video with an interactive activity (think embedding questions in EdPuzzle or completing a HyperDoc) as well as an assessment to ensure students understood the concept (this could be traditional like a Google Form or by having students explain concepts or examples using a tool like FlipGrid) will help complete an online-based math activity while providing educators with needed data on how well students understood the concept.
For teachers of younger students, there are a ton of interactive resources and content that allow students more engagement than just watching videos. Hands-on activities, such as using digital manipulatives, are critical in helping students understand fundamental concepts. To help with that, the Ready Learner One team is proud to offer you the following focused compilation of resources to assist you with identifying the best mathematics tools that can be used to support your learners, not only during distance learning but also once we are able to return to the classrooms.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post in the Ready Virtual Learner One Series focusing on Science & STEAM Learning- Virtual Hands-On. Wishing you good health!
|Mathematics Remote Learning Resources
RSD Mathematics K-8 Remote Learning Activities – Free resources for remote learning in mathematics curated by the Rio School District in Oxnard, CA
SFUSD Math Elementary School Closure Lessons – Developed by educators in the San Francisco Unified School District, these lessons for K-5 classes provide 10 days worth of activities with content in both English and Spanish.
Desmos – Desmos is a free web-based graphing calculator that lets users explore math in new and exciting ways. There are a large array of free activities on their website including some that are specifically designed to be utilized in a remote learning setting.
– Distance Learning for Grade 6
– Distance Learning for Grade 7
– Distance Learning for Grade 8
Khan Academy – Free online math videos for just about every topic.
K-5 Resource Guide – Lesley University’s Center for Mathematics Achievement in collaboration with the Kentucky Center for Mathematics have put together this resource guide for parents and caregivers to be able to support children’s mathematics learning at home during school closures for the COVID-19 outbreak.
99Math – Developed by an Estonian teen, 99Math is a classroom game, similar to Kahoot, where students compete to solve math exercises faster than friends. During the COVID-19 crisis, they are offering free accounts where students can access and play quick games to help with math skills and motivation.
Math K-5 Choice Board – Andrea Chandler Barron, an educator from CA, created these excellent choice boards for K-5 students featuring activities that any educator or parent at home could implement to support skill building for students.
MangaHigh – Mangahigh is a site which is targeted towards math students from elementary all the way through high school. It covers all math concepts such as number, algebra, geometry, measurement, statistics and probability, as well as the coding languages of Scratch, Python and Blockly. It is currently offering free access to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
60+ Awesome Websites for Teaching and Learning Math – This list, curated by WeAreTeachers.com has a list of resources for teaching math at all grade levels and has been updated to reflect free and discounted resources for online education during the COVID-19/coronavirus outbreak.
About the author: Jesse Lubinsky is the Chief Learning Officer for Ready Learner One LLC. He is also is the co-author of Reality Bytes: Innovative Learning Using Augmented and Virtual Reality. He is a CoSN Certified Education Technology Leader, an Adjunct Professor of Education Technology at Pace University, a member of the Google Earth Education Experts team, and a frequent keynote speaker and presenter who has recently done educational technology presentations across North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Australia. Follow Jesse on Twitter at @jlubinsky.