Helpful Websites, Software and Online Tools
Word Processing & Spreadsheet Creation
- Google Docs – My school district has gone “Google”, so all new documents are in Google Docs. It is wonderful for collaboration because anyone can edit a shared document. The down side of this systems is that it is Google, and some people do not like that Google has such a handle on their lives.
- Apache OpenOffice – I like this suite of applications becuase it is freeware, and I like to support that movement. The equation editor in the documents program is wonderful, especially compared to what is supposed to be the equivalent function in Microsoft Word. The library of math symbols is extensive and I have always found what I needed up through Pre-Calculus.
- Google Slides – This is my new favorite presentation software for students to use. It is easy to use, free, and students can easily share their work with me, thus simplifying turning things in. The downside is that it’s Google (see above) and web based- so no wifi, no presentation.
- SMART Notebook – I use this software almost every day. It works in conjunction with a SMART Board, but it does SOOOO much! I write the notes on the white board, then save the day’s notes as a PDF to post on the class website. It lets you save about 6 different fonts and has an math package that costs extra but does have a free trial. It has limitations–like the newest upgrade caused my computer to randomly shut down and reboot, so the tech guys had me downgrade to an older version. It solved the reboot problem but I lost some of my fancy features. The best feature, however, (despite reboots) is the SMART Exchange. It is a website where you can download and share SMART board lessons. There are good a bad lessons, but looking at other people’s material has taught me a lot about how to create animations and graphics in my own lesson. There are tons of cool things that can be done with this software.
- Prezi – This was the first online presentation tool I ever heard of. The presentations are super fun, as they are not linear. Kids seems to like them, and you can easily embed videos into your product. It’s free, which is a huge plus, and it is online, so no need for kids to save a file and turn it in. On the down side, it’s not free. There is a 30 day free trial, however. Also, it is a bit cumbersome to use and not terribly intuitive. I also find that if I run a presentation, I have to logout completely and login again to reset my presentation. There may be a way to do this, but it isn’t obvious enough that I’ve found it in the last two years.
- Geogebra – This is my favorite math tool. It is an extensive online grapher, but oh, so much more. It graphs mutivariate equations, shapes, conics, anything you can think of. It has an extensive online help system that is really quite useful. The functions range from simple graphing to complex sliders. It has a web app or can be downloaded to a computer. Both are free. I have the downloaded version installed on my classroom computers and use it as my go-to graphing program when I need to print a graph. The export feature works beautifully–it prints to the clipboard as a JPEG. Another benefit is that you can type in equations as it–unlike the TI-83/84, you do not have to solve an equation for y before you input it into the calculator. I’m trying to think of a down side…
- National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (NLVM) – This is a collection of mostly Java Applets sorted by grade level and subject matter. There is a ton of stuff in here–online geoboards, equation scales, tangrams….the list goes on and on. It could be quite hand in a class where you want to do, say, geoboards, but don’t want to deal with the rubber band issue. I use it for remediation a lot. Everything is free. A down side is that there is a lot of clicking. Also, it requires Java, so they will not work on all devices.
- eNLVM– I have just discovered this site, so I do not have a lot of experience with it. It is funded by the National Science Foundation and is an enhancement to the NLVM (above).
- Desmos Graphing Calcualtor – Every math teacher needs a free online graphing calculator. This one has a simple look to it which confuses the kids less than some of the other calculators out there. It graphs everything I need though Pre-Calculus, including all the trig functions and inverse trig functions.
Fun Math Sites
These are just fun. You’ll see what I mean…
- Mathematics in Movies – This is an extensive catalog of math in movies. Not only do they have the clips, it tells you what mathematical concept is highlighted in the clip. And it’s from Harvard, which is just cool. The drawback is that it’s only movies, no tv shows.