Finding Good Resources


Finding good resources takes time. I've added some opinionated reviews here. It is more useful to be opinionated than bland! The idea of the reviews is to save other teachers time. This is a wiki and you can add to and modify the reviews and/or discuss them on the discussion page.

Organisation

I've split this list up into three parts; Larger Resource Collections, Smaller Resource Collections and Links to Links. The larger resource collections, if suitable, are generally the most useful, simply because there is more material there. The smaller resource collections may only have a few pages that are directly useful. The links to links take you back into searching again. They are useful when they help you find things faster than Google.




Larger Resource Collections


Khan Academy

This site has 1,800+ short (typically 10 minute) free to use videos. Well over half are for mathematics. They range from counting, multiplying and subtracting decimals, comparing fractions, through prime numbers, elementary algebra, to trigonometry to differential equations. The origins of the site: in 2004, Salman Khan began tutoring his cousin in mathematics. When she moved to another state he continued teaching remotely, putting short chalk-and-talk lessons up on You Tube. These became very popular with other students too, because they actually understood the concepts after watching them and the site grew from there. The Khan Academy has received funding from Microsoft and Google to expand on this work. There are also a number of volunteer programmers working to extend the on-line maths exercises on the site (free, but requires google or facebook log-in). Although billed as experimental these exercises are already usable and useful, though not as slick as commercial sites. Teachers can create a class id and teachers can monitor progress on the exercises.

The main problem I have with the videos is that it is a little difficult to know what each one contains without actually watching them - it could take a lot of time given the quantity. Salman has a relaxed reassuring style of presentation that goes down well with children. He is very good at pointing out early on things that confuse children, e.g. notational conventions in trigonometry that by now are second nature but that aren't in fact all that logical.

Sal often doesn't finish his sentences, getting distracted by the need to change the colour of the chalk or deciding he wants to say something a different way. He makes some minor uncorrected slips that wouldn't get through in a professionally produced 'maths channel'. On the other hand in one video where he accidentally says 'the oppotenuse' it makes the whole thing more human than a slick high-production-value video would.

This is definitely a site to pay attention to. The on-line exercises are already good and are going to get better. Text for the videos is gradually becoming available through a drive for transcriptions of every video. That will help with the problem of knowing what is in each lesson.

Wikipedia, Wikibooks (including WikiJunior) and Wikiversity


For mathematics wikipedia itself is too much like drinking from a fire hose. For example, the article on the Pythagorean Theorem is truly encyclopaedic, including a proof of that theorem by a former American president (president Garfield, since you asked). Wikibooks shows promise, but all the maths titles there are in an incomplete state - no matter that it says some are ready to print, they are still very incomplete and patchy. Wikijunior's introduction to maths has a few pages with worksheets with useful pictures for fractions. Wikiversity is too advanced for primary or secondary school and a lot of the maths content is incomplete.

Wikipedia is probably most useful for mining for pictures to illustrate a maths topic. A topic like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puzzle can suggest some interesting/fun maths exercises. All the images are free to use/remix for worksheets in the classroom.

My verdict - not that useful for K12 educational resources at this time. That's mainly because everything is so incomplete, but wikibooks is a very good place to go if you have the time and inclination to create and share maths example worksheets. Visit the maths project page (add your name there or add a request) for help in getting diagrams and illustrations produced or sourced to accompany worksheets.





Smaller Resource Collections


Dirty Maths from Australia


This is an award winning initiative to make mathematics more hands on. The pdf document describes the problems, approach and assessment of the initiative. Two pages, page 9 and 10, have example exercises, e.g. designing a parachute (to carry an egg) and the dating of archaeological findings. Interesting reading, nice ideas, but not enough new exercises (in this document), and not presented in a classroom ready format.

New Zealand 'Maths Week 2007'


There are 24 worksheets on the page. 9 are algebra worksheets, 15 have questions that include "Name the largest number with only 4 digits". One or two questions are New Zealand specific. There are also some links to on-line number games. The one I tried wasn't bad educationally and practices picking numbers to make a chosen number.






Links to Links


These pages are mainly resources providing more links to more resources.

Curriki


"Curriki's mission is to provide free, high-quality curricula and education resources to teachers, students and parents around the world." (Curriki is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation; has Google-Ads). At the moment (for mathematics) it is frustrating to use. The search feature is slow, and the search results say little about the content of the links. Moreover it has started to get swamped with links to khan-academy videos, so that other potentially interesting links are driven out.

I did find (and like) this page on curriki, Bridges of Oregon which provides real blueprints of bridges so that children learning about vectors/forces can compare how different designs work. Would be cool to have our own bridges in there too.

Cool Maths Sites


Zillions of links to maths websites (I'd skip the puzzles and games). Unfortunately there are no reviews there of the sites linked to to guide you as to what you are likely to find if you follow a link, so in practice not as useful as it could be. Many of the links go to places which don't have much content. Of the links I followed, I liked Dave's short trig course which has a reasonable amount of content and lots of example questions.