Wednesday, March 31, 2010

10 Ideas for Innovative Math Instruction

Innovative educators know that math doesn't have to be boring or abstract. There are several innovative ideas for spicing up your math class. My favorite idea for educating innovatively in math is mathcasting which is fabulous, free, and easy. The first three articles below touch on the concept. The fourth article introduces two really interesting math resources that innovative math educators may find of interest. One is a site that has great ideas for relating math to real life and another is a bank of videos that students stuck on a concept can refer to when necessary. The fifth, sixth, and seventh article highlight some software programs that math educators might find of interest for remediation, though they're more geared toward elementary. The eighth article has some inspirational lectures to inspire math students, and the ninth article looks at an innovative math program piloted in New York City. The last is a link to which is fabulously cool and free. From algebra to vectors - and everything in between - the site enables you to explore ways to get the message across and bring math to life.

  1. Kids Teach Kids with Mathcasting
  2. There is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch: 8 Free and Easy Ways to Begin Educating Innovatively
  3. 21st Century Educators Don’t Say, “Hand It In.” They say, “Publish It!
  4. Innovative Ideas That Make Sense for Those Hungry for Math Instruction
  5. Free Math, Language Arts, and Geography Games
  6. Timez Attack Helps Kids Have Fun Tackling Math Times Tables
  7. Game-Based Learning Site for Innovative Math Educators
  8. 100 Incredible Open Lectures for Math Geeks
  9. 5 Innovative Ways to Differentiate Instruction as Witnessed During My Visit to the School of One
  10. Teacher's TV - Math
If you find any of these ideas useful, please share your thoughts in a comment or even a guest post on The Innovative Educator.

Here's another great resource:
"Science of NFL Football" is a 10-part video series funded by the National Science Foundation and produced in partnership with the National Football League. Lessonopoly has created student activities and lesson plans to support the video series which will help students learn concepts like nutrition, kinematics, and projectile motion. Each video is complemented with lesson plans which include fun classroom activities.


  1. This is a wonderful list of ideas. Having said that, I would also include the use of legos and lego robotics. Both legos and lego robotics speak to the core of math; problem solving. For example, if a child wishes to build a car using traditional legos, they will have to determine which procedures are needed to attach the wheels, axles, windows, and roof thereby building a sound structure. This in turn helps develop the child's tenacity and problem solving skills.

  2. @Jacob, I agree! If ya write a post about it I'll add it to the list ;-D

  3. I just came across which seems like a very cool website. I'll ask a couple of our students to test it review it.

  4. You know I probably will. Its just a question of when.

  5. I'm just delving into these but if the topics described are indicative of content I'm looking forward to practice-changing material.

  6. I feel that these links are excellent resources for teachers to use. It is very important for teachers to be innovative and creative when trying to teach math to students.

    One link that I found particularly useful was the 6th link, "Timez Attack Helps Kids Have Fun Tackling Math Times Tables." Being that I work in the third grade, this game for students to play is a great way for my students to learn their times tables in a fun and enjoyable way. Students love working on the computer and playing different games on the computer.

    Being that I find that it is very helpful for teachers to use computer games or technology to teach students math, the 7th link, "Game - Based Learning Site for Innovative Math Teachers," is a great link to many different helpful websites that has multiple links to different math game websites. This can be very helpful for teachers to use while trying to grab their students' attention.

    All of the links up here are extremely interesting and helpful when it comes to trying to bring innovative teaching to math. Teachers should try to take a more creative, interesting approach for students in order to gain their attention and foster their interest in math.

  7. Looking through the articles, the one I found to be the most interesting was '21st Century Educators say "don't hand it in" they say "Publish it" There were many innovative ideas I found could be very useful and new to the classroom.
    Baby Mail, by using Voki, or Google voice can be a way to take the pressure off of giving an oral presentation. Many times students are nervous to voice an opinion in front of everyone. This was a student can read a loud an essay and post it, learn a new language and practice speaking, or echange ideas over the computer.
    The fact that you no longer hand in assignments and publish them again seems to make school more exciting. I've heard of publishing parties, when students and teachers invite people from the school and their home to share in a celebration of their hard work.
    Another innovative idea this article made me stop to think about was the Wallwisher. So many times you see teacher spending time to make a chart look nice, neat and clear for the students, only to throw it away and be forced to make a new one the following year. Instead this application allows you to store all this information on one site dedicated to your charts, post-its and, and children's work. It saves space and can be used as a reference for years to come.

    Kyrie Burns

  8. This article and all the links in it are very useful. I wasn't aware of all the free tools available and I think that they will be very helpful in the classroom. I also agree with the fact that Permethean are not always necessary a good old projector and a white board can do the trick. However, those teachers that do have Permethean in the classroom are spending more time in the front instead of interacting solely by their own poor choices. Technology should be an extra outlet for student learning not an easy way out for teachers.
    One tool that I really likes was the Etherpad. This allows students to work together and be accountable for their work. Also, teachers are able to interact with students, view their work and guide them in the right direction. I also really like the Tool . The tool is a great way to check students writing level and being a 1st grade teacher i have to type up students' work "as is" for bulletin boards. After typing up their work i can check for their writing level using this tool and keep track of their progress throughout the year. Also, it is a great help when I am using articles for Social Studies or other areas I can differentiate material by providing proper reading level material. Similarly, Find a Book is a great tool to help level some of the books in the classroom library that do not include a level.
    Overall, this article was very helpful and I will definitely refer back to it.

    Taisiya Zuyeva

  9. There are so many resources available to us, and a lot of them are free and unknown. This list widened my horizons!

    All of these innovative ideas are great because they make the learning more fun and interesting. Especially with the don't "hand it in", "publish it" ideas, I feel like those are great ways to have the students feel especially proud of their work.

    The internet has certainly come a long way. There are so many different ways to teach one concept and thankfully, the internet lets us share and find all these different ideas. There are different explanations, methods, point of views, the list goes on and on.

    - Jenny Abayeva

  10. The first article “Kids Teach Kids with Mathcasting” I thought was a fantastic idea. I agree with the fact that the students learn better when they teach it to someone else. This way they are testing their own skills and understand the material since hey have to explain it. It is also interesting that kids put up videos for others to see and they don’t shy away from it. The second article I was blown away because of how true it is in regards to the way people think about education. I wanted to pop into the conversation and say a few words. Yes, although the old times did happen it doesn’t mean that it has to continue and the free things are the ones that we stick to best because it is so hard to find it. We need to embrace the future and the technology that it brings but we also can’t forget the past. Speaking about technology, the article “Free Math, Language Arts, and Geography Games” tells us another great way to present different material to the kids. Learning should be fun because it is the fun things that we remember the most. Playing math games encourages children to do math and learn it.
    Every link resents great and useful information, it has something that we can all learn from. If we give it some time we can be some of the best ,motivating and goal achieving as well as and most importantly fun teachers.

    Diana M

  11. This was a great article full of wonderful ideas and teaching strategies. The way teachers use technology and the new styles and techniques that are being developed are really paving the way of future teaching instruction. I really liked the article about instead of having students just hand in their work, they will publish their work. I think these ideas and resources will make the students strive for success in all work they do. Putting in 100% in all that they do and then rewarding them and letting others in the school and community see their work will have lasting effects and boost self-esteem.
    After reading the articles I did some research of my own and looked into more resources for "Innovative Educators” I found a great website with helpful ways to incorporate technology and other manipulatives into your lesson plans. The website is This site guides instructors who teach early childhood education, special ed., and even alternative education. I am really looking foward to using more technology with my students, especially in the elementary grades.

    Great articles and I enjoyed reading them.

    John Isola

  12. I can't say I have written a rough draft on yellow paper, edited it, and then copied it over onto clean white paper since middle school. So why do we still teach students to do this? I think some teachers feel that they don't understand how to use a program or think it will be too difficult to learn to use one. I see how some teachers are so timid and afraid to use computers. So, I want my students to stay abreast of the latest developments of technology. I do not want them to ever feel like some of those teachers. I will definitely have my students "publish it" instead of just printing it and handing it in.

    This is a great list of resources for teachers who want to incorporate more technology. Some of the resources and programs available for free were unbelievable. I also think this is a great resource to convince some teachers that they can do more. Timez Attack is a simple way to add some technology into the classroom!

  13. These articles were very informative. I found myself jotting down and checking out the links and websites for these math tools that are so helpful to students. I feel that many teachers and administrators have the misconception that great technology is expensive and out of reach. I know I did. I realized that it's about working smarter not harder. I have had the experience where my schools paid a person to label and level reading books. I am sure a lot of people are not aware of these tools that can helps and most importantly save time. Just wait till I share what I have learned from these articles to my principal. I might get a raise! LOl.
    I am amazed and I am really looking forward to other great and free math tools that are out there. This is going to help me a lot because I know the countless hours I have spent looking for resources to engage students. Most of the math tools in the article are geared towards older grades. However I think it is a great start. I am looking forward to see how I can include these ideas in my teaching such as making videos and having the students make their own videos and some of the other tools mentioned. I really enjoyed the 'wall wisher' website. My school is very strict on having instructional charts and concept/question boards with post its of students thoughts; and many times the post its fall off. I have to find ways to preserve charts and it is hard. So I thought that was great and eco friendly because it helps a teacher remember and not use so many post its.
    Another aspect that caught my attention is educators could apply some of these tools for any subject and not just math.
    Stella Delmas

  14. I found all the links interesting and useful.One of my first thoughts was that many of the ideas can be used in other areas like Social Studies and English,in addition to Math.

    Of real interest to me was the second link,'There is such a Thing as a Free Lunch'.I agree that one of the greatest hurdles to innovative teaching is some teachers resistance to change.Coming from a developing country,I have had many interactions with teachers who are reluctant to try new ideas in the classroom.I guess it is because most of us feel safe doing things that we are familiar with.So, the question still remains,how do we get teachers to try new ideas in the classroom?

    Hazel Simpson

  15. All these articles are diverse, meaning; it incorporated many different subjects with math. This is a great resource for all teachers. Learning can be so much fun especially when we step outside the traditional box. Hopefully with information and resources’ like these math would no longer be viewed as "the most difficult subject" and be avoided as many do. The presentation is so much more appealing, that the student are to busy learning while having fun to worry about formulas.

  16. Anastasia- I love your idea of stepping out of the traditional box

    Hazel, Kyrie, and Christie- Thank you for sharing

    Stella & Jenny- I am glad that you found the free math tools valuable

    Melissa- Very insightful

    John, Taisiya, & Diana- I am glad you found this interesting


  18. I read the article "kids Teach Kids with Mathcasting" and "Free Math, Language Arts, and Geography Games". There are two very short article in the contents; but they convey a very important message to modern society. Technologies are so helpful and popular in educational field. It helps students to learn some subjects which are abstrct; such as math and science. I mention that it is so popular because it is a basic course if you want to be a teacher.

    Su Zhen Chen

  19. I think all links sent the students to the right psage. It is very helpful to learn some subjects as a math or science.It's allso very good resource for teachers and parents.

  20. I have read the article,and what really catch my attention is "There is no such Thing as a free lunch". Some teachers who have been in the field for a long time,can really improve their way of teaching math and sciene without worrying about the cost of materials. All they have to do is take time to search the free sites and introduce the fun ideas to the studens in class.

  21. I have read most of the ideas andthe one that I was more intersted in was the #2 wich is"There is no Such Thing as free Lunch". The idea makes it easier for teachers who have been on the field for long time to get free resources and introduce them to their students without having to worry about the cost.This way teaching math and science will be more fun with the new technologies. Great sources.Marie Jeanty

  22. These links are an excellent way to teach math. As a student who struggled in math throught life, i feel that math should be taught to children in a way they could relate to it. All the links are great especially link five.In the new wave of technology video games are a big part of childrens life. I think it's a great idea to combined learning math with video games. Inconclusion as an adult looking back at my childhood i wish my teachers made math fun and exciting to learn. Dayna

  23. I really enjoyed browsing all of the websites. One that I liked best was "Timez Attack Helps Kids Have Fun Tackling Math Times Table". Whether we like it or not, most kids these days are facinated by technology. Although the benefits of this are debatable, one thing is for sure... students CAN learn from certain games and computer programs. Memorizing times tables was always something I dreaded in school. I remember reciting them in unision with the rest of my 4th grade class every morning. When working with students now, I hate to have to tell them to "memorize" these facts. Using a game like "Times Attack" will help children to practice and learn their times tables without having to solely sit and memorize them. When children are engaged, and are using math for a real world concept (or winning a game!) there is a much greater chance they will focus and learn. I am fortunate enough to have each of my students be able to work on a computer, so I definitely will use this game!

    Christina Ferrara

  24. I love reading articles that introduce me to new things as an educator! This article was especially informative for bringing our classrooms up to date with math instruction. As we know, in today's society, technology is extremely prevelant in the lives of children. In order to keep them engaged and spark their interest, it is very important to incorporate this medium into the classroom. In the fifth article, I particularly liked how students are able to play against each other in many of the games, whether in school or at home. Kids love the idea of being able to play with their friends which can only lead to further engagement and motivation. I also enjoyed the second article, there is such a thing as free lunch, because it really highlights the point of teachers and classrooms changing with the times. Regardless of the subject, it is our job as teachers to spark our students' interests and get them excited about learning. Especially with math, where many kids struggle, why not make it as interactive, fun, and relatable as possible. Need help in doing so? Check out the last article and get some suggestions for how to deliver the best math instruction possible.

    Courtney Weiner

  25. So often I hear that there are many resources out there to enhance instruction and learning, but had no idea of what they are. Thank you for naming some of those resources. It's great to know that learning can be fun, interactive, interesting, and enagaging. I am excited to get back into my classroom and try out these resources. This post has opened my mind and challeged me to truly think outside of the box.

    Nitzeida George

  26. I've had teachers that made math fun and interesting to learn. Teachers who believed in me and my abilities and encouraged me. However, I have also had teachers who didn't seem to be interested in math themselves let alone trying to make it fun. I had one teacher who literally never got up from his desk. He would just turn around in his seat on the rare occasions that he actually wrote something on the board. Additionally, I've had a couple of math teachers who didn't have any faith in me at all when I was struggling. They never made the extra effort to reach out to me and take time with me personally.

    I'd never heard of mathcasting before but it sounds like a great idea to help the students and to get them involved in helping other students. It was also a wonderful idea to establish a website where Mr. Marcos and his students could post their videos and to allow others the same opportunity.

    I appreciated that the author of There is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch: 8 Free and Easy Ways to Begin Educating Innovatively pointed out that there are many free resources available through the internet. All of the tools that the author list seem very helpful. Again, I wasn't aware of any of them. The author of 21st Century Educators Don’t Say, “Hand It In.” They say, “Publish It!" makes a great point in saying that if teachers don't allow their students to publish in "relevant places they are NOT preparing them for today or tomorrow." I also appreciate learning about the six suggestions given in the article for educators to have their students publish an assignment.

    The authors of Innovative Ideas That Make Sense for Those Hungry for Math Instruction give some pretty good examples such as the math videos on YouTube and the Mathalicious website at The author of Free Math, Language Arts, and Geography Games introduces us to
    In Timez Attack Helps Kids Have Fun Tackling Math Times Tables, Professor Gutnicki informs us of Timez Attack which is an animated game that uses strategies to teach kids their times tables. The author of Game-Based Learning Site for Innovative Math Educators tells us about which helps older students ("11-16 year olds") learn math.

    In the article entitled, 100 Incredible Open Lectures for Math Geeks, the author informs us about where they have lectures on basic math, algebra, geometry, calculus and many other topics. In 5 Innovative Ways to Differentiate Instruction as Witnessed During My Visit to the School of One, the author explains how the School of One uses Renzulli Learning in order to differentiate instruction. I think that it's a great idea that each student is profiled (with input from his or her teacher and family) to determine "how they like to learn." Then, the information from the student's profile is used "to design instruction directly aligned to the students need[s]."

    Finally, seems to be a site (although it's closed down) where you can still view many lessons for free. I found the whole article, 10 Ideas for Innovative Math Instruction, to be very informative, helpful, and a great resource.

    Stacey E. Jones

  27. This is an excellent resource not only for teachers but also for guardians. In schools that are not equipped with modern technology, teachers can introduce these web sites to guardians as an extension of students’ study at home. These sites are so educational that guardians would appreciate knowing them.
    Among articles, I especially liked the article, “21st Century Educators Don’t Say, ‘Hand It In.’ They say, ‘Publish It!. I agree that if children’s writings are regularly published in this way, they would feel so much gratitude and motivate themselves to tackle their assignment effectively.

    Keiko Shari

  28. This is a great article that provides good ideas not only for math teachers, but for teachers in general. Having students get involved in the process of their own education is fantastic since it provides them with a sense of pride and ownership. The idea of having children make their own videos is great because it is a fun and engaging way to maintain students interested in the subject. Students can use their creativity to learn and help others who are struggling as well. It is also a good assessment tool for teachers.

    As teachers, we constantly encounter unique individuals. Students have diverse educational needs and for this reason, it is of crucial importance for teachers to be able to properly differentiate instruction. Having the opportunity to incorporate technology in daily lessons is great but a teacher must truly understand how and when to use it. As mentioned in the article, a teacher must really know and understand how to differentiate instruction in order for the lesson to be meaningful. Technology has no real value in a classroom if it is not used in a proper way. Torres, G.

  29. There is a lot of good stuff for free online for innovative teachers and their students. Just a matter of finding them. The 8 free tools are great and I plan on exploring them some more. Publish it teaching is a great way to really get students to show off their work. That makes the whole process more meaningful and engaging. Math game sites are great. What student would not want to play games and hey they actually will get something out of them! What really inspired me was how came about. One teacher trying to help a student became so much more.
    Vanessa McMellon

  30. We as teachers need to do what we can to change with the times. We are in the age of multimedia. Nowadays, most children sit in front of the television for hours or play videogames! Everything else is boring for them. I say, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Teachers should do what they can to make learning more interactive and engaging. That is why it is so important to infuse technology into the curriculum. There are so many different resources and websites in which children can learn, be engaged, and have fun at the same time! In my school, every classroom has a Smartboard. The Smartboard is great because you can create your own lessons and make them into a game. The kids love going up to the board and manipulating it. If I want to teach my students about a topic in Science or Social Studies, I can streamline a video. If we are learning about a country or studying current events, we could go there via Google Earth. There are a myriad of ways in which we can keep our students interested and engaged.

    I think that all of these articles gave great ideas for teachers of the 21st Century. Going through the writing process of Brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing is a tedious task for both, the student and the teacher. I love all of the innovative ways to publish work that were suggested in the article, “21st Century Educators Don’t Say, Hand It In.” They say, “Publish It!” Publishing your work to a real audience makes it meaningful and children can actually take pride in their work. Having students actually publish a book, or respond to literature on the web where each student has their own profile and students can share and build off of one another’s ideas, or take a video of a “How-To” and demonstrate how to do a math problem with mathcasting are all such great and innovative ideas. This is the direction in which teachers need to be going in education.

    -Alla Priemyshev

  31. I was extremely encouraged when browsing all of the websites because I’m constantly looking for interesting ways to teach my students. The one that really captured my interest was "Timez Attack Helps Kids Have Fun Tackling Math Times Table". According to test scores, my incoming 4th graders are really weak in number sense operations especially multiplication facts. Because students are so intrigued with technology , finding a way to incorporate both is ingenious. Parents must realize that all computer games aren’t bad. There are actually great programs that help students and keep them engaged academically. Instead of the “drill & kill” method, a game like "Times Attack" will engage students by helping them to learn their times tables. This allows students to get excited and not feel limited in their knowledge of multiplication facts. I will surely use this game and many others.

  32. This is a great article helping teachers learn about websites for their students. Parents could also benefit from it and have their children go on some of these websites. All of the links are excellent resources for them to use.
    They were all very helpful and interesting but one that stood out to me was Timez Attack Helps Kids Have Fun Tackling Math Times Tables. Most kids today don't know what being a kid is. When I was younger being outside playing games, going to the park, and enjoying the outdoors with my friends was so much fun. Today kids are either on their cell phones, computers or video games. Technology has taken over especially with children. They are so fascinated by video games and having this be a video game that teaches multiplication is great. They could learn about math and do what they love the a video game.

    Nancy Mandarino

  33. I wanted to agree with Professor Gutnicki's post about Robotics. It's true that programming, usage of legos, and playing with robots are a great way to get student interested in engineering and math.

    I also love because it is an individualized search engine that is tailored to children's individual learning styles and interest. It's just a shame that many teachers do not use it to its full effectiveness because it can be time-consuming.
    Ayesha Long

  34. All of the attached links are very useful. I was not aware of most of these tools, especially mathcasting, and believe they could be very useful in my classroom.
    I enjoy using my smartboard, and all the perks that go along with it. Most of the time I still use individual whiteboards in my lessons. I do not think my SmartBoard keeps me from interacting with my students around the room.
    I look forward to trying out each of these sites.

    Kimberly Braga