What materials (online, books etc) have been using during your initial teacher training year?

Among all the resources I have used since starting my teacher training, there are three online tools that I have discovered to be very useful in helping me teach mathematical concepts and in engaging the students’ interest. They are Desmos, GeoGebra and Blooket.  They all require either a connected screen (e.g. interactive whiteboard) that the students can view or for the students to have their own devices.

Desmos and GeoGebra are similar interactive tools for geometry, algebra, statistics and calculus.  They provide a great way to demonstrate the link between algebra and geometry. I used them for year 7 and 8 students to examine equations of straight lines.  For example, the equation  y = mx + c is typed into a formula section and then sliders are set up to control the values of m and c.  As you change these values, you see the line changing on a graph.  It’s a helpful way for students to develop a feel for concepts such as gradient and an understanding of how graphs will look just by examining the equation.  As students progress, you can of course extend the graphing to include functions of higher powers, as well as exponential and hyperbolic functions and derivatives.  For younger students there are opportunities to develop understanding of shapes and angles, each time relating values and expressions to graphical or geometric displays. 

If students have their own devices, preferably with reasonable sized screens, then you can set up activities for them to join and monitor their progress in real-time during a class.  But even just using Desmos or GeoGebra on one screen at the front of the class allows you easily to create interactive explanations and bring key maths concepts to life.

Blooket is a very different tool, making answering questions into a competitive game.  You can choose different game structures.  In general, they involve students being able to gain virtual prizes, and even steal them from each other, which they love.  To progress, they need to answer questions correctly; and you can either set up your own questions or use sets from the large library of pre-set questions. The students end up learning without really realising it. Blooket also proves to be a very useful incentive to work (“If we make good progress in this lesson, we will have time for a short game of Blooket at the end”).

These tools were new to me and provide interesting ways to involve students.   I hope one or more of them are of interest to you.

By Roger Stone

Find Roger on Twitter as @rogerstone26


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