* Spotlight on Mathgeek Mama

Mathgeek Mama is a cool blog with seriously good math resources, advice, and freebies.  I stumbled across this site recently and have been downloading some cool resources ever since.  Bethany is the math geek behind this terrific site, loaded with resources, helpful links, and insights for struggling students.  She’s a former public school math teacher who now homeschools her four girls.

Why do I love Mathgeek Mama so much?  Bethany really gets it.  She understands why some kids struggle with math.  She tackles common misunderstandings with multisensory and appealing materials.  And much of it is FREE.  Here’s a good example.  I am tutoring my nephew in math; Isaac partially understands place value and regrouping, but still needs that aha moment.  Bethany has created a clever and attractive shopping game where the currency is pattern blocks.  Without resorting to piecemeal algorithms in his head, Isaac can play this game and truly understand why he must “regroup,” even if we don’t call it that.  Anxiety is reduced and understanding is increased.  Perfect!


Check out Bethany’s site for freebies and much more.  Her products are reasonably priced and worth the investment (and far more attractive than anything I could create).

* Matific

Matific is terrific!  What a fabulous website for teachers and parents!  I am only using a free trial right now, but here’s what I will enjoy for the next 30 days:

Awesome math games (called “episodes”) which can be used to supplement school/ tutoring math lessons, added as homework, or selected by the student for independent play (if teacher/parent allow).   I found myself happily playing a number of these episodes.

Excellent coordination with your math instruction.  Math activities (games and hundreds of worksheets) can be assigned which correlate to your school’s math textbook, Common Core, and/or student needs. Activities may also be assigned by grade level or topic.

An enormous number of activities are available!  They are designed for kindergarten through 6th grade.  What about quality?  These episodes require mathematical reasoning, provide positive feedback, and make excellent use of current technology for computers and tablets with touch screens.  They go far beyond the typical “pop the correct answer” online game.  Without pesky time limits, special needs kids with processing issues will enjoy the process.  I think all kids will enjoy both the thoughtfulness and humor in these games.  And who knew that worksheets could be engaging?  Try them at Matific and see!

Solid resources for teachers.   You’ll find lesson plans, videos, tutorials, recorded webinars, white papers and more.  The teacher guides for episodes are extremely well done.  There’s a description of the required task, requisite skills (“behind the scene”), suggestions for demonstrating the episode to individuals or the whole class, VERY thoughtful questions for improving student understanding and promoting further exploration, and then more teacher-led follow up activities.

Strong student analytics.  Get reports on classroom overview; individual student achievement; and student scores cumulatively, by topic, and by assignment.  They’re quite simple to access- no hunting required.

Excellent pedagogy.   Matific is a seriously well-designed site and takes supplemental math instruction to a whole new level.  Students are encouraged to reason and enjoy math.  I especially value the inclusion of algebraic thinking as a math topic.  The folks behind Matific are solid mathematicians and computer whizzes.

And after my 30 day free trial?  Seriously reasonable cost for an upgraded membership.  I am surprised at the low cost of Matific and hope it stays that way!   Great value for an amazing website!

I have snipped a copy of The Matific Mission and would say their mission is a success!

Matific 2

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars  starstarstarstarstar




* youcubed.org

fractal-659135__180This month’s Teaching Children Mathematics (a publication of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) reviews youcubed.org,  a website designed to promote the current changes in math instruction (aka Common Core) while providing support for teachers and parents in that process.  Youcubed and a free online course are offered through Stanford University under the leadership of math professor Jo Boaler.  This site has multiple resources, including videos and lesson ideas which can be downloaded. Four headers run across the home page of youcubed with messages like “Mistakes Grow Your Brain” and “Depth not Speed.”

Categories on the home page include Teaching Ideas, Tasks, Online Courses, Knowledge Center, and Community.  Here’s a sample of what’s available under Teaching Ideas:

  • “Mindset,” which focuses on research suggesting that all kids can learn math at high levels,
  • “Depth Not Speed,” with a single article on math anxiety created by timed math tests (I had hoped this section would include a discussion of the current pace of math instruction on many topics which leaves kids adrift, but that issue is addressed across the site)
  • “Math Apps and Games,” including board games like Mancala
  • “Number Sense” and “Multidimensional Math,” with strategies for broadening student success by allowing exploration and reflection
  • “Making Group Work Equal,” which promotes a form of teaching math using the Complex Instruction teaching model (mixed ability groups, assigned roles for groups, focus on multiple ways of learning and explaining math, and direct instruction on student responsibility for one another).  More on that method later.

I am going to make my way through youcubed’s free online course (if I ever finish the other two on literacy which have kept me from blogging!).  Youcubed is worth checking out since we are certainly not doing a terrific job teaching math as a nation.  On the other hand, the site strongly advocates the use of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, which has its own “issues” for special needs kids.  Although I agree with the value of authentic math problem solving, student reflection, and team work, I question how effectively this translates into actual math instruction in our public school bureaucracy.  What do you think?