With over 650,000 apps in the App Store, how do you determine what’s really worth your time, and in some cases, money? As a middle school math teacher and summer math enrichment program director, I’m always looking for new games and ways to engage my students. I have spent countless hours scouring the App Store, downloading and testing out various apps, sometimes even getting addicted to some myself! Without further ado, here is my list of the five best math apps currently on the market. § Read the rest of this entry…
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Last week a principal introduced me to a math teacher in my school district. The principal proudly stated that over the past three years this teacher’s students had averaged 98% advanced or proficiency in Algebra 1.
“Wow! How did you do that?” I exclaimed. “Is there something special in your teaching technique?” Obviously, this teacher knew her subject, but so do many teachers and without achieving these results.
“I care for my students,” she responded.
Okay. Yes, caring does have a lot to do with a teacher’s success. We wrote a blog about it in February called We MUST Engage Our Kids. Caring was one of four ways that we suggested. But 98% advanced? Can “caring” account for that kind of success? After I pressed for more information, this teacher finally revealed § Read the rest of this entry…
Someone posted this on a Facebook page yesterday:
2 + 2 x 2 + 2 x 2 – 2 x 2 =
And I was shocked to see that so many people got the wrong answer.
Knowing the Order of Operations is important for a student’s success in math – so important that we included two lessons in the Elevated Math iPad app dealing exclusively with this subject.
If you are absolutely sure of the right answer, don’t bother watching the following videos. BUT if not… or if you want a peek at how Elevated Math teaches the Order of Operations, § Read the rest of this entry…
Math students who begin their journey into absolute value usually evaluate expressions with absolute value as “always positive.” That is until they encounter the absolute value of zero, and then their answers become “always positive or zero.”
The formal definition of absolute value is |x| = x if x ≥ 0 or –x if x < 0. The negative x confuses students, and they never quite understand that it is the absolute value that is always positive or zero. Unless this misunderstanding is corrected, the situation becomes more problematic when solving inequalities that involve absolute value, which can lead to unhappy teachers and muddled students who usually conclude, “we don’t like math.”
In our Elevated Math lessons we make it clear that absolute value is distance, and distance is always positive or zero. We begin in lesson M3.1 with instruction on negative numbers followed by problems, and then we introduce the concept of opposite numbers before explaining absolute value:
Here is how we do it: § Read the rest of this entry…
This week we continue with the idea that we MUST engage our kids. Here is one of our favorite cartoons. Happy Valentine’s Day!
The cartoon introduces the Elevated Math algebra lesson entitled, “Solving Systems of Linear Equations by Substitution.” Graphing and elimination are both methods for solving, but substitution is another one. All three methods produce the same solution, but depending upon the problem, one method might be easier. Find this lesson in the iPad app, Elevated Math.
A memory of middle and high school is being stuck in class and daydreaming my time away, full aware that my inability to focus on the droning lesson in front of me would cost me dearly when I had to figure out later how to answer the homework problems. Maybe this is why I made educational films in college and more recently worked with a team to launch Elevated Math, an iPad app that teaches middle school math. Teachers need to do something to engage our kids. We have infinite ways to do this, but for now I’ll touch on four.
1. Passion. Teachers must not only love the subjects they teach, they must be passionate about them. In college, I took a class on existentialism. The instructor would talk an hour in the lecture hall and then, when the hour was over, would invite us to join him in the sculpture garden outside where he would lecture another hour. Everyone followed him. He would speak about each philosopher as if this person held the ultimate truth of life that we each needed to know. No doubt this professor passionately loved his subject. Can we approach our class in the same way, as if we hold a sacred gift of knowledge that we must pass on?
2. Real-world problems. I remember my earth science class when the first photographs of the moon were released. My teacher drove to Washington D.C. (we lived in northern Virginia) and acquired large prints of these maps. § Read the rest of this entry…
If you have taught your math students about perimeter and area, if you are ready to present them with an application challenge, and if they are into Pythonesque comedy (Do you know many middle schoolers who are not into the absurd?), consider showing this clip from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
After watching the clip, distribute the activity, “Monty Python and the Quadratic Shrubbery,” for your students to complete.
Applying newly learned math skills in a real-world helps students master those skills instead of just § Read the rest of this entry…
In the previous blog Use Angry Birds to Teach Math (see below) we shared a plan to introduce students to parabolas. Students can follow Bruner’s CRA teaching method from tossed-beanbags to the parabolas in Angry Birds to graphing-quadratic-equations in Elevated Math. The popularity of our blog post has inspired us to include an excerpt from the Elevated Math lesson. This lesson is part representative and part abstract. We have removed from the video the “autopauses” found in the iPad lessons so the video will flow better. This lesson, A14.1, continues for another 18 minutes and includes abstract activities for the students. Also, two subsequent lessons A14.2 and A14.3 further explore quadratic equations.
Though we are pleased by how many good reviews Elevated Math has received this summer, we thought this one was worth mentioning, and not just because the analysis is complimentary of our app. TekGadg, the reviewer, took the time to create two videos. One we pasted above and shows the Elevated Math app and how it works. The other is seen here in the TekGadg site. Scroll down to see the HMH Fuse: Algebra app from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. If anything, the evaluation of these two apps should make people consider more carefully their math app purchases. A lot of time and thought was devoted to the review and we feel that TekGadg has created a benchmark for app evaluations.
In a few months, I am beginning my liberal arts education. According to Merriam-Webster, a liberal arts education consists of “college or university studies (as language, philosophy, literature, abstract science) intended to provide chiefly general knowledge and to develop general intellectual capacities (as reason and judgment) as opposed to professional or vocational skills”. In other words, there is no emphasis on math. In fact, all ten schools I applied to this past fall are liberal arts colleges and only require one math class, if any.
Thus, it is safe to say I’m not a math person. I always took the “easier” math classes so I could commit to more difficult courses in the humanities. This worked well considering I never actually had any problems in math until this past year. In fact, I enjoyed my first three years of high school math. § Read the rest of this entry…