Tag Archives: free

5 Great Free Math Websites For Teachers

by Mary Kate Dempsey

free math websites for teachers

Image courtesy of artur84 | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Technology is a great way to introduce variety to your math lessons. Below are some helpful websites that teachers can use as reference materials, for tutoring, as extra practice, or just for fun.

Khan Academy

We have talked about Khan Academy before. Khan Academy has thousands of K-8 educational videos to help students grasp concepts from basic arithmetic to calculus and organic chemistry. As a teacher, you can create a class and track both your students’ progress through skill assessments and how much time they spent working on the site. The site includes non-math subjects, but they aren’t the draw.

A+ Click

A+ Click is a great resource for students who need extra practice. Students choose either a grade level, G1–12, or a topic. Whether the student answers right or wrong, A+ Click will show you why the correct answer is correct (so even the lucky guessers will learn something). The site revised most of the questions in 2015 to align to the Common Core. Bonus: no sign-in required!

Wolfram MathWorld

This offshoot of the popular Wolfram Alpha online calculator has hundreds of free math articles on topics ranging from algebra to topology, including the history and definitions of math terms—fun for the math nerd in all of us! Many articles include helpful visuals such as GIFs and pictures. It is the perfect reference material when needing to go into more detail about a theorem or topic.

AAA Math

This site for students in grades K-8 contains short written lessons followed by practice items on topics from addition to algebra. In the classroom, ask students to answer a specific number of practice questions or set a time limit and have students tell you their score at the end. The site is also available in Spanish.

Math Dude Podcast

More for the audial learner, Math Dude is a weekly podcast most appropriate for high school students. Host Jason Marshall aims to make math fun with facts about the Juno Spaceship and the NCAA Tournament. He shares tips and tricks to help make math easier for kids who are struggling. The podcasts range from 6-10 minutes, making it a great bellringer.

What are some other math websites you love? Let us know in the comments.

Free Apps We Love: Sketch Pad 3

by Jonathan Laxamana

Sketching apps can be valuable visual learning tools in your classroom. For example, students can quickly create and share diagrams and other images in an engaging way on their iPads.

Sketch Pad 3 is a free app with many useful features. The app’s drawing area, or canvas, now has an unlimited writing space thanks to its scrolling capacity. The color swatch includes six basic colors in addition to black, and there are four pen sizes to choose from. Sketch Pad 3 features a toolbar to add emoticons to drawings as well as a track pad to reposition images. As with many other apps, you can use your thumb and a finger to spread or pinch images to change their size. The palm rest, which allows you to rest your palm on the screen without leaving marks, is another appealing option.

Here are some of the toolbars and other features Sketch Pad 3 includes:

Sketch Pad 3

Screenshot of Sketch Pad 3 in action. We covered most of the ad banner with the floating toolbars. The palm rest is in the bottom right, but can be switched for left-handed people.

The app can save images in either .jpg or .png format, and there is an option to email images as well. An autosave feature is another plus. The paid version of Sketch Pad 3 includes additional tools, such as a flashlight, alarm clock, audio recorder, and barcode scanner.

Some ideas for using sketch apps in your classroom:

  • creating graphic organizers
  • taking notes
  • working through math problems
  • listing homework assignments
  • brainstorming with visuals

Below are a couple of helpful tips from facultyfocus.com:

  • To erase the screen more quickly, pinch the image to its minimum size and erase that iteration of the image.
  • Make the advertising banner disappear by turning off WiFi. Or you can cover up the banner with the floating tools palette.

To see the app in action, check out this helpful screencast from the app designer.

Jonathan LaxamanaJonathan Laxamana is Technology Manager of Green Light Professional Development. He has more than ten years of experience in producing educational software products, video, web-based content, and mobile apps. He writes about new hardware and software, troubleshooting tips, and everything iPad. 

Where to Find Free IWB Activities

by Dagmar Ladle

Websites for IWB activities

Your whiteboard can do better than this | image courtesy: Stock.XCHNG

Every time I enter a school, teachers ask me for recommendations for websites that are great to use on the IWB with their students.  Below are just a few free websites I like for small group IWB activities.

All Subjects

Interactive Sites for Education: This site is a great portal to interactive IWB activities. The site states that the activities are for grades K–5, but I have seen content up to the 8th grade level.

Marqueed: This is a site where users can share images and create a collaborative, secure area for students to provide feedback and discuss images related to class content.

BrainPOP: Though most of BrainPOP’s content requires a subscription, they do offer some great free resources across all subject areas. Click “Spotlight” or “Free Stuff” to see what’s available now.

Language Arts

It’s Greek to Me: This Scholastic game focuses on Greek influences on the English language.

Scholastic Story Starters: Story Starters allows students to choose from four themes to write a story.  Students type in their names, pick their grades (K–6), and then spin wheels to determine elements of the story, including its plot, setting, and characters. Once the students choose these elements, they can type the story and add a picture.  The story can then be printed or downloaded.

FlipSnack: This program allows teachers and students to create and share digital books. A basic class license is free.

LitPick: (Grades 6–12) This site provides preteens and teens a safe social community to read and review books.

Social Studies

The Underground Railroad: Another Scholastic activity, this interactive journey along the Underground Railroad is engaging for students and includes a helpful teacher’s guide.

The Digital Public Library of America: The Digital Public Library of America draws on online content from libraries, universities, archives, and museums to be a one-stop search spot for students and teachers. Search for a topic, or click “Exhibitions” for curated content.

Current Events and Community

Youngzine: This is a current events website for kids that allows students and parents to interact with another by commenting on news, informational pieces, student writing, and books.

Where do you go to find free IWB activities?

Dagmar LadleDagmar Ladle is Manager of Consulting Services at Green Light Professional Development. Before Green Light, Dagmar worked for Chicago Public Schools, Promethean, and Apple. She writes about technology integration and GLPD’s work in local schools. 

How to Find Free Primary Sources Online

by Erin Dye

Gettysburg Address primary sources

A handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address | image courtesy: Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Using primary sources is a critical part of effective social studies and English instruction. Primary sources—such as speeches, photographs, diaries, letters, and audio/video footage—are the original records of history. Many primary sources from previous decades and centuries have been digitized and are now available online.

Teaching with primary sources is important for two main reasons. First, students can use primary sources to construct their own understanding of history and improve their critical-thinking skills. Students need these skills to meet the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts, which emphasize fluency with nonfiction and multimedia texts.

Second, and no less important, using primary sources can be fun! The possibilities for how to use primary sources are endless. For example, do you plan to teach the Gettysburg Address in your class? Why not enhance your instruction by finding an image of the actual document—written in Lincoln’s elegant script? Or share a photograph of the crowd gathered at Gettysburg to hear Lincoln speak? Primary sources like these show that history is more than a description of a speech in a textbook. It is a record of the words and experiences of real people. By using primary sources, students become detectives on a quest to understand the past.

Modern technology has made it easier than ever to access to a wide variety of primary sources. These websites can help you locate primary sources to improve your lessons.

The Library of Congress: The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, and its website offers an abundance of primary sources related to history, culture, government, the arts. Its American Memory collections are easy to search, and the site offers fun ideas for how to use primary sources in the classroom. Consider using its “Today in History” feature as a bellringer to pique students’ interest at the start of class.

National Archives: As the official record keeper of the United States, the National Archives houses many of nation’s important documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Its website has images of these documents, as well as many other records. The site also includes many helpful resources for teachers, including an online tool called Docs Teach. Docs Teach includes many types of primary sources, including written documents, audio and video clips, photographs, and maps. It organizes primary sources by time period to make finding information easy. Think about searching this site for photos or documents that connect to units of study or even particular times of year. As Thanksgiving approaches, you can even find and share fun photographs of presidents pardoning turkeys!

The Avalon Project: The Avalon Project at Yale University Law School is a great resource for primary sources related to U.S. and world history. Included in its collection are treaties, trade agreements, and presidential papers. Sources are organized by time period, beginning with ancient and medieval history.

Do you have other suggestions on where to find primary sources online? Leave your ideas in the comments!

Erin DyeErin Dye is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development with extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

Free Activities on Museum Websites

by Hope Morley

Field trips to the country’s great museums aren’t always an option. But museum websites are a great source of free educational material and lessons for the classroom. For a professional development session with teachers recently, we put together a sampling of museums with strong educational content.

 

Science

The Museum of Science and IndustryThis Chicago-based museum has science activities on a range of topics, from the circulatory system to levers to habitat overcrowding. The How To activities include step-by-step instructions and images, which are great for displaying on a whiteboard while students complete the task. The games make a fun reward for students.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural HistoryThe Smithsonian provides lesson plans, specialized web pages, and a few interactive activities for students. The simulations (students may enjoy the Virtual Dinosaur Dig) can be used by students individually or in small groups on a whiteboard. Watch out for broken links on this site.

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum: Though the range of activities is limited, the quality of these lesson plans and activities is fairly high. Direct students here for small group explorations or during free computer time.

Art

National Gallery of Art: The National Gallery of Art provides several fun tools for creating art online. We particularly like the Collage Machine and 3-D Twirler. If your school uses Mac computers, you may need to download the free desktop apps rather than working on web browsers.

The Metropolitan MuseumThe Met’s interactive videos are great introductions to art and art movements. My favorites are “How Van Gogh Made His Mark” for older students and “Marduk, King of the Gods” for elementary students.

History 

National ArchivesThe National Archives has created great content out of their treasure trove of documents and photos. Be sure to check out their YouTube videos for interesting multimedia. Can’t go on a field trip to Washington, D.C.? Use their Historypin tours for a new perspective on historical events.

Smithsonian Museum of American HistoryThis site provides a few fun activities for teaching U.S. history. Most activities are geared to be pleasant diversions rather than full lessons. They would work well as bellringers or short small group time.

What great museum websites did we miss?

Hope MorleyHope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT