Math is such a wonderful and fascinating discipline! Whether you find math polarizing or discombobulating, math is interwoven throughout our lives. Helping students foster a respect and foundational understanding of key math concepts is central to building a lifetime of what I like to call “math usefulness through confidence.” In other words, laying the groundwork early will help students develop the “I can try” mantra instead of the “I don’t get it” mantra while realizing that math skills are serviceable.

Since there are so many wonderful math resources out there, I couldn’t just pick one. Instead I have selected the top three that I have used in my own classroom. These resources have helped build math fluency and increase student confidence in my students, and it is my hope they will in yours as well.

### Math Playground

At math playground there is truly something for all students regardless of age or ability level. From all of the math and thinking games pictured above to all of the instructional step-by-step videos that can used for reteaching, self-guided instruction, or differentiation, this resource has many different opportunities that can impact student learning. In addition, there is a wide host of problem solving activities aligned to Common Core State Standards which will instantly add substance to previously mastered computation skills.

Even for those students who have IEPs and need work on more basic skills, math playground has opportunities to practice algorithm skills. There is a flash card section, blog, and worksheet section. Regardless of student need, math playground is a mainstay in my classroom. Try it!

### Sheppard Math

The next resource I want to share is Sheppard Math. What’s great about this resource is the incredible amount of core applied to its content. We hear all of the time, we as teachers need to strengthen the “core” of our lessons. This resource is a wonderful option to beefing up that core!

As you can see here, there is a wide variety of computational supports in place ready to assist your students. However, that is just the website in “simplest form” – let’s expand this content exponentially (aren’t math puns great?!). Fractions, decimals, integers, geometry are just a few of the other concepts covered in-depth here. In fact, resources range up to Algebra! Give it a try!

### Sumdog

Along the same lines as the previous two resources, let’s say you have students who need reteaching regarding computational skills. Let’s also say, they view math as a hindrance instead of a benefit. Sumdog may be the answer you have been looking for! Not only do students work on highly engaging activities at their skill level, but they do so in a competition format – in other words they are competing against other students at their level, on the same game, at the same time with students across the globe. Set up your free teacher log in, upload a class roster, and off your students will go – to math proficiency and fluency!

# Honorable Mention Resources

Math Computation – http://digitwhiz.com/

Math Games for K-5 – http://www.abcya.com/

A games-based math teaching resource – http://www.mangahigh.com

# Your Challenge

I think in today’s school we hear the terms “differentiation”, “intervention”, “remediation” and so on constantly. If you were to take one of the resources above, how could you use it to differentiate for your students while building math fluency, competence, and ultimately math confidence? If you have used one of the resources mentioned above with fidelity, comment on its effectiveness in your own classroom. Please enumerate as to how it what used and in what capacity!

Remember, even if you don’t teach “Math” you are challenged to share ways that you could integrate at least one math resource in your classroom.

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## 49 comments

I teach Spanish, and I often find sites like these and use them as a basis for learning Spanish. For instance, the scholastic game with the penguins would be perfect for my middle school. We could have teams when practicing numbers, and they would have to call out the correct answer to the math equation in Spanish rather than in English. I always love Scholastic. They have quality materials.

I’ll have to select Sumdog. We have Acuity and in the past used Apangea. I really like Sumdog because it is easy to use, the teacher can control what the students work on, and it targets what the student’s need. Acuity is fine, but the kids are getting bored with it and I will have to agree, it isn’t that exciting. I think you could use Acuity to see where the weaknesses are and then use Sumdog as extra practice in those areas.I’m anxious to see how the students respond.

I have not used any of these resources yet. Typically, on the last work day for a project, as the students finish up, I have them go to FreeRice or CoolMath and let them pick topics that interest them. This allows them to build their confidence on what they already know and if they pick something that is a little though, they can change when things get too frustrating. We are starting a project this week and we should finish on Friday. We will see how these work then.

Yes, I have always felt if in ELA you can have freewrites, in math you should have some free choice in terms of concepts to work on too!

I am a mathematically challenged individual, that’s why I chose to teach technology instead of math! My biggest stumbling block has always been word problems. I specifically looked at the Math Playground and the section on word problems. I was first drawn to the “game” level aspect of the program – being baseball and as you progress from one level to the next, you move around the bases. One of the problems I found I had previously is breaking down the question; this program breaks down each part of the question and allows you to answer each question before proceeding to the next but by the time you’ve answered the questions, you’ve solved the problem. I could see these types of programs being used to target specific areas that students are having difficulty grasping – so great for differentiated learning.

I teach upper level science in high school so using these across the board for me is a bit of a stretch. However, I do teach some lower level science now and then. In those situations, reviewing math concepts is almost a daily chore. With these sites in my pocket, that task will be easier. It will also allow me to differentiate for those that need more practice on basics. Those that do not need more practice they can work on other enrichment style work or they will love the competitive nature of SumDog and could encourage others by competing with them.

I already had Math Playground bookmarked for our upper grades and now have it bookmarked for our lower grades. I really liked the variety of games it provided. As the keyboarding technology teacher my grade levels tell me what they are working on and this site will provide me with many fun games that I can have the students work on. Both students and teachers alike love the tutorial videos of Math Playground. Our older students especially like the competitive aspect of Sumdog. The upper grade teachers use Acuity for Math and I like that you can get onto Sheppard Math to provide those individual help topics they need. We also have a school paid version of Study Island that is standards based for grades 3-6. Sheppard Math along with the other programs will give the students additional fun gaming practice of the standards lessons covered. Our student also use Cool Math games and enjoy them. ABCya is great for not only Math but Language as well.

I only had time to try out Math Playground, but I found a lot to use there. In my 7th grade science classes, I have my students round speed, acceleration, etc. answers to the nearest 100th. Many don’t know how to do this. I found three lessons that deal with rounding decimals. There are also lessons for scientific notation which I may also use. The 1st grade lessons will be great for my grandson.

I teach science now but I used to teach math. I used the resources in Acuity to differentiate student learning. I could choose exactly what standards they needed to work on and assign lessons related to those standards. I could have higher level students working on standards for the next grade and lower level student working a grade behind. I have also used a laptop with headphones in the back of my room for students to work on lessons in which I feel they need more work.

Since I am the tech coordinator I look for programs for the teachers to use/ The teachers have tried Sheppard’s Math before and liked it. Our favorite has to be Sumdog, we have the paid version of it. You can setup each child, to work at their work level. Some students on harder levels and some students are easier levels. The teachers also receive reports as to how the child is doing, so they can change their level if need to be. The children love it, when they come into the lab they all want to play Sumdog

I definitely could share these resources with teachers that I work with. I really enjoyed the Sumdog and can’t wait to use it with my own children at home! I also think that the Math Playground has some fun games and learning activities.

Karen, what uses do you see with Sumdog or Math Playground in the classroom setting?

Definitely out of my comfort zone, but I did take a quick look at SumDog and think I I am going to get my 1st grader on there. She likes math and I want to continue that with her. Thanks for sharing this.

Remember John,

Though it is challenging, you need to provide an example of how these can be used in class. I have faith that you can think of a way!

My first instinct on this as a tool in my English classroom is when we do our Math Across the Curriculum. I am not strong in math, so my math questions tend to be weak and I have a hard time explaining them to the students before they do them. This might be a tool that I could point the class to when it comes time to do out MATCh.

I am also wondering if I could take the logic puzzles from Math Playground and use them when we talk about evaluating sources. One of the pieces I focus on is trying to find out how the author got to the point that they made. Could a walking through the logic in math help a student follow along with the process that a research used?

Teaching Spanish, I sometimes do word problems in Spanish or simple math problems in general. I’m not sure how much I would use these sites in my classroom, but I loved the math playground. I will use it as an alternative to other games my own children may want to play!

Kelley,

It is important that you provide an example of how these could be used in a classroom, for the benefit of all in the challenge.

I liked the Logic Games that are part of the Math Playground. Critical thinking, problem solving, and analytic skills are beneficial across content areas. I’ll certainly call this site to the attention of my students.

Heather,

How would you use this with your students?

I would use this with my students as an opening or transitional activity possibly alternating with lateral thinking puzzles that are completed as a class.

We utilize Oddesy, which is similar to some of the programs mentioned. It allows us to set up lessons specific to each child’s needs so that we can tailor the remediation/extension activities for our students. We also use the thinking Blocks app and LOVE it. It is a great way to help break down word problems for students at all levels.

Thanks for the extra resources!

These are exciting! I have already passed them on to our staff! I teach art and music, but I used to be a math lead teacher in Florida. I had differentiated groups based on benchmark scores. I separated the scores based on math strand. As I see on math playground their are the strands labeled. I would assign different apps/ games according their need. I did a mini lesson then small group instruction. I could definitely see that as being a beneficial activity that makes learning math more individualized and engaging! Thank you for these tools.

WoW! Love the resources. I am familiar with math playground. My students love the number games. They are fun because students can create a group and play a game with each other in the classroom. Thinking Blocks is a super word problem activity. It uses blocks to represent parts and whole. Students can even make-up their own problem in thinking blocks. I looked at the Common Core math section because that is new to me, and again there are so many resources there for individualizing practice. I have not used Sheppard Software before today. It is also amazing as well. We will be starting integers next week so I looked at the pre-algebra section on understanding integers. There is a great game very much like Pac-Man that involves “eating the negative or positive integer” that matches a word phrase. ABCYa looks great as well. I tutor students in the 3rd grade, and all of these resources will be great because of the great grade-level range.

Although I think all 3 are great resources, none of them will work on an iPad. Does anyone have any favorite math apps they would like to share?

In response to your App question…. Try the “Hooda Math” iPad app. I am currently using “multiplication Flash Cards” iPhone app with my 3rd grade son. I like using this app over others because I can set what appears on the flashcards, (single digits, multiples of “4”, etc..). This is the only app I could find that would give me that kind of control over what the problems are.

Outside of the apps, how do you see these tools being used in class?

I think any of these sites would work at the high school level for RTI or flex period interventions. I have used CoolMath and others for individual concept review at times. At the high school level, they could not be stand alone but could be a blended resource for extra help to stay on target with the standards. While I type this I am at the National Math conference and I have put in several plugs about the 30 day challenge at my last session on web 2.0. The presenter eventually PAID the $12.99 fee to connect to the internet to show the site after everyone wanted to talk to me!

I have shared these resources in a training before. They are all great. What my teachers liked most about then are the videos that students can watch. Student found them very interactive and fun. All levels of students could get on and work at their own pace.

Tiffany,

How would you see these resources used in class?

I’m an eLearning coach and I just had a teacher ask me the other day about new math resources on the web. Perfect timing!

Enjoyed the tutorial videos of Math Playground. Seems you can never have too many math websites for students to explore.

I like the competitive aspect of sumdog. I think it would provide that extra motivation that some students need. Seems to be user-friendly and has a wide variety of games and skills.

Shepard has an incredible selection to choose from! I can definitely see teachers turning students loose to look around, or giving specific activities for them to practice.

Students in all of our elementary schools are begging for computers during recess, during class and before school to use Sumdog! We encouraged all teachers to engage students in the math contest on Sumdog. Many were hesitant however the outcome was worth it! Math can be “boring” or “scary” for some and Sumdog has truly revolutionized the extra practice time to students. We have also heard that students call one another so that they can play against one another during the evenings and on weekends. Incredible!

All of these programs are amazing for extra practice but I feel they are especially ideal for the unenthusiastic student who thinks that math is boring (when most of the time they simply do not understand). Additionally, students who excel in math have a chance to increase their knowledge!

Also, we have just begun using eLearningforkids.com with the elementary students. Teachers are finding that these games are great for developing word problem strategies. Students love video games and cartoons – these games offer that plus education!

Our seventh grade teachers get their homeroom kids back during a 30 minute advisor/advisee time. Those kids use some days as a study hall, but some days are set aside for math and language arts remediation. The nice thing about sites like Sheppard Math is that every student can work on a skill he needs at his own level. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter that most of them aren’t in the classroom with the math teacher at the time. Each of them can work on math skills regardless of which teacher they have for adv/adv. Currently they are using IXL and Digitwhiz for the math remediation, but I’ll be sure to share these other resources. Thanks!

I teach special ed in middle school. I like to use fun websites to reinforce math skills and to get students interested. Since each student is working on a different level and has different IEP goals, everything is differentiated and used as interventions to help students catch up to grade level standards. I looked at all the websites. I think they are really neat. I did some of the math games on math playground and on Shephard math. I could not get into Sumdog until someone lets me in since our school was already signed up. This is another tool I can use for each student to work on their math goals and track their progress. I have students who need reinforcements on the basics and computation. I also like the videos that explain. On the word problems, I liked that if you got it wrong it would give you another problem just like it but with different numbers to keep practicing.

You know a special ed. teacher is who turned me onto mathplayground. She uses the videos with her inclusion classes to help differentiate their learning.

Oh My Gosh!

Teachers had to design this Sumdog thing! It is beautiful, fun, and easy to use.

I played it and found that it would be perfect for remediation with my students. So I started setting up my account and entering my students. In less than 10 mins, I have uploaded all of my classes (about 100 students), given them a username and password to track their progress, and printed them out in a manageable way. The games are entertaining and fun and I will definitely be using this in class tomorrow.

Update:

It is a phenomenal site. And can be used to practice so many awesome math facts. My one problem? For more advanced info (useful information such as which skills they need help with, how they did, number of correct answers, etc.) it requires a subscription of 2$/student.

True. Maybe that is something that can written into a SIP. Grant money is out there!

Update: I talked with them and they were able to cut a deal with us in order to better accommodate our financial need! They lowered the price and set it to just the end of this year.

I am very pleased and excited with the way it has helped my class. I am so glad that I have been participating in these discussions and challenges.

That is stinking awesome! I am really excited for you! Way to go!

Sorry, But I am going to sound like a parrot. I don’t teach math… but I can see the value of the websites for a math teacher. I know part of the challenge is to look at these sites and find a to use them in my class, but honestly, these sites do not lend themselves well to my objectives. I guess we could look at key words used in math problems and see if they match key words used in Language Arts prompts.

I do not teach math, but our teachers use Acuity and the instructional resources (including BrainPop) that go with it to assess students and provide additional support. Acuity allows teachers to drill into the standards and determine where a student may have gaps in their learning. Once the gaps are identified, resources such as the ones listed above can be used to provide additional support by differentiating what each student needs. This process also provides extension opportunities for students that are working above grade level. Some of these resources are introduced in the classroom, but then students can also work on them from home. For example, my 2nd grader loves using my computer to play ABCYA. He especially asks to play it after he has used it in class that day.

I do not teach Math, but when I was teaching Technology in 1st-8th I used abcya a lot. The graphics and audio are easy for 1st and 2nd graders. It also has a great area to teach the 1st and 2nd graders mouse skills and drop and drag skills.

I teach Biology and have noticed students tend to forget simple math skills needed in labs, such as rounding a decimal calculation, calculating averages, means, percentages of occurrence, etc. Shepard Math would be a nice tool for a quick review of rounding and commutation rules involving decimals.

Hopefully these tools would help bridge math skills with calculations needed in gene pool calculations, natural selection labs, and sharing of class data.

Thank you for the introduction of such a variety of tools! Loving it!

I really liked Sheppard Math because it would be nice and easy to pick a skill for students to work on after instruction. This has been bookmarked and will be used as a supplemental activity. I explored Math Playground a few years ago using it with some entertaining story problems for my younger students. These would certainly be more useful at the younger levels but some middle school students would really enjoy these and benefit.

It is amazing how engaging some of these activities are for kids. They really do enjoy doing them.

I don’t teach Math, but I think the biggest way that I can use the resource would be to continue working on reading the information carefully. I know that students struggle with word problems, so I work really hard in Language Arts to teach them about picking out vital information.

I did share all of these resources with the Math teacher on my team and she is going to check them out. Hopefully, she will find them beneficial.

Amen! At one of the schools I work for, the POP is answering the question asked. So often students can compute data, but apply or understand what they are doing it for. The whole question of “What is being asked” and “Why are doing this” come into play.

If I were a math teacher, I’d look closely at Sheppard Math. This summer I taught 6-8 grade math in summer school, and I wish I had known about this site. I administered a pre-test on the first day to figure out how advanced the kids were. I used that data to place the students into four groups. They all advanced at different rates by working on their weaknesses.

Most standardized tests break down students’ performance by skill. Even if you didn’t have ISTEP, PARCC, or ECA data to go on, you could give still a pre-test. Sheppard Math makes it really easy to pick skills that students struggle with and focus on them.

I have used Sheppard Math in the past (I don’t teach Math this year.) and it was very useful for Math centers on iPads. I could have activities pulled up for my students that are below level, on level, and above level and then work through them. It was also a great resource for those “early finishers” that needed something to keep them engaged when they had finished everything that was assigned for a given day. They best part is, there was such a plethora of activities for me and them to choose from, that they never got bored with it. :)