Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Call to (Math) Arms

We recently heard from teacher MCN who asked for math lessons using iPods or cell phones. This turned out to be a tall order: while there are companies popping up all over offering fee-based math games for cells and iPods, there aren’t currently a lot of good freely available resources. So, hear ye, hear ye, I’m issuing an official call – I’d like to know about free math lessons/apps you’ve created for iPods or cells; links appreciated. In the meantime, some offerings:

The Tangent Function
Subjects: Math, Trigonometry
Grade: 10-12

The tangent of an angle is the ratio of the length of the opposite side to the length of the adjacent side. Well, alrighty, then. While this concept may click immediately with some students, others (like me) might need some extra support. This 2 minute, 55-second math animation can be downloaded to an iPod with video capabilities and used to coach students through the tangent function. This animation is offered by mathtutor, which is comprised of a group of UK teachers, mathematicians and new media producers from the Universities of Leeds, Loughborough and Coventry and the EBS Trust.

Math Snacks: Bad Date
Subjects: Math, Proportions, Ratios
Grade: 5-8

This is one bad date that you’ll actually want to stick around for. This “math snack” is a brief (less than 10 minutes) animation that humorously visualizes the ratio of words spoken on a series of dates. It can be viewed online, or downloaded to an iPod or iPhone. Besides the humor and the engaging graphics, I like that this resource also has learner and teacher guides available with extension activities, discussion points, and more. If downloaded to an iPod, it can be viewed repeatedly at a student’s discretion. Math Snacks are the brainchildren of the New Mexico State University Media Productions department, which offer dynamic educational media developed by its award-winning team of faculty, animators, game and web designers, videographers, programmers, and artists.

Linear & Exponential Growth Poetry
Subjects: Math, Algebra, Writing
Grade: 6-12

Remember “My Hero, Zero”? If you grew up in the 1970s, you’ve hit pay dirt with this lesson. Using Schoolhouse Rock videos and footage from a classic Coke commercial, this lesson teaches students about the differences between linear and exponential growth. I like that this is a cross-curricular activity combining those two unlikely bedfellows, math and language arts. Students fill in the numbers they hear in the songs, with the idea that they see how fast exponential growth (geometric, multiplying) grows as opposed to linear (arithmetic, adding). The videos can be downloaded to iPods and used outside the classroom. This lesson is provided by NumberFix, part of the Northern Nevada Writing Project's Writing Across the Curriculum workshops for teachers that is designed to inspire writing about math in the classroom.

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