For those of the uninitiated, Twitter is a fantastic way to ‘filter’ the infinite resource that the internet provides. By carefully selecting people to follow (key note speakers at conferences, leaders in particular fields, interesting personalities, news magazines…), you can keep up to date with all of the latest by logging in for only a few minutes a day. Regardless of how randomly you check in, you will always find some interesting and illuminating conversation or links. You will also probably need a bookmarking system, like Diigo, to keep a record of all of the papers, PDF’s, blogs, and articles that you might like to return to.

For example, from following Twitter, I now have the Jim Vanides Daily! http://paper.li/jgvanides sent to my email. As I quickly scan the education and technology pages, I will often find at least ten links that require further perusal. Yesterday, there was a posting for a link called Show the Math http://showthemath.org/

As mentioned previously, I use a pen-based tablet, with a stylus for teaching and writing all math notes. I find typing math to be tiresome and restrictive. However, in class, I use the web all the time, to provide animations, applets and real-world applications for students to make their math ‘come alive’.

What I like about this site from Question Press is that students can enter their own algebra equation. My plan for using it in class would be to have students start by all answering the same ‘skill testing question’. They could then work through it individually, and perhaps share answers in pairs. Answers could be captured using the ‘snipit’ tool from the Microsoft accessories.

Using a poll, all final answers could be entered and students would vote to choose the best answer. Once a correct answer is determined, the discussion would centre on the incorrect answers, and which processing error makes them incorrect. To summarize, the mnemonic device BEDMAS, would provide a quick way to remember the process.

So, why would I choose this applet instead of simply having students write in a solution using their stylus? What I like about it is that this applet requires the user to pick a step (in green), before they carry on and supply the equation. Much as students may have memorized the BEDMAS term, they may not really understand its meaning, or why it is necessary. Using this site, students have a clear record of their steps, and can quickly compare it to their classmate’s or the correct answer, to self determine where their error may have occurred. In addition, a few weeks later when students return to this work while studying, it’s clear presentation should make for an easy reminder of what occurred during class time.

Once students are confident in their understanding of the processes required to correctly solve equations, I would recommend you try an algebra worksheet generator such as that provided by math.com http://www.math.com/students/worksheet/algebra_sp.htm. I have several reasons why I like this one, but mostly because a student decides how many questions they need of each of the different types (rather than me blanket-assigning they do 40 questions). The worksheet is randomly generated so each student will get a different assignment every time they request one. I find it best if students print the answers, so they can self-correct as they work through their solutions.

Why not take a look at these sites and see if you can suggest other ways of using them?

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