Saturday, April 16, 2011

Online Flashcards

This is going to be a quick how-to post on using digital flashcards in class.  Of course, you don't need technology to use flashcards for review!  You can have students write up their own flashcards as a homework assignment or during class.

While anyone can make a flashcard using pencil and 3x5 cards, there are some benefits to using digital flashcards with your students.  You don't have to worry about the quality of the students' flashcards, since you make them yourself.  With online flashcard websites, you can set up your own flash cards and just send students a link.  Then, they have access to that resource to practice on their own time, without having to make the initial investment of making the cards.  Two, you can make them once and use them forever!  Three, some flashcard software is very advanced, with algorithms that only show the cards that students most need to work on.  Four, there are some websites and digital flashcard tools that have Andriod and iPhone apps to let students quiz themselves using their phones.

On to the websites.  My favorite flashcard site is Anki.  This is a really advanced flashcard software.  It can be installed on your computer (on Mac, PC, lots o' stuff!), used online, or used on your phone (they have Andriod and iPhone apps).  It is really great for math because it has support for the LaTeX typesetting language, which most college professors use to type up math textbooks.  Anki has a lot of options, a "spaced repetition" algorithm for serving up questions when you are just about to forget the answers, and a page that will show you charts and statistics for the questions you get right and wrong.  You can also download decks online, which is how you as a teacher would be able to share with your students.  Here is a short introductory video by the creator of Anki:

I really like Anki and think it is a fantastic tool.  However, you might think it is a bit overkill.  There are lots of flashcard websites out there that you can use to share flashcard decks with your students.  Two that I found are Flashcard Exchange and Flashcarddb, which I used a little bit to study for history of math (for instance: here).

Do you think online flashcards could be useful in your class?  Let me know in the comments!  Cheers.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I recently did an interview with Dr. Boling as part of her study about this course.  If you haven't already talked to her, I highly recommend it for two reasons:  one, it's a good chance to give back to the GSE, and second, I think it's fun to talk about education with someone that has a lot of experience.  Anyway, in talking about this course we brought up the idea of sharing resources that were really valuable to us in our respective subjects.  So, this post represents my attempt to do that for math. 

Math specific stuff

My hands-down favorite collection of math resources is  I know many of y'all might already be familiar, but I have to pitch it just in case.  The site has lessons organized by topic and grade (click "Lessons" on the left for a search screen.)

Also highly recommended is Sam J. Shah's virtual filing cabinet (part of his Continuous Everywhere.. blog).  The virtual filing cabinet includes links to good teaching resources for algebra II and above.  Link here:

The next overall website is  This is a website created by the New Zealand Ministry of Education, so the website is organized according to New Zealand's education system.  Our 8th grade is roughly their level 4 or 5.

Different blogs are good for different grade levels, but my favorite is "I hope this old train breaks down", link here:  The author posts quite frequently and links to all sorts of great stuff.  I read it for inspiration as well as specific lessons - I like her teaching philosophy.

Also good are dy/dan, Continuous Everywhere but Differentiable Nowhere, f(t), and many others.  I highly encourage you to look at the blog links on the sides of the above blogs and bookmark/rss the ones you like depending on what classes you teach.  Links:,,  For an example of a valuable blogroll, see

There are tons of sources of good problems for your math classroom, here are two: Mathcounts (middle school) and Exeter math (high school).  Also, check out Alcumus and For the Win! from Art of Problem Solving as well as
Kuta math software has free worksheets on a big list of math subjects,which are so-so.  Site:

For those of you that have projectors or access to computers but not Geometer's Sketchpad, check out Geogebra.  It's basically the free, open-source knockoff of GS, and it's very, very similar, though it lacks the polish of Sketchpad.  Some links: for download, and has a bunch of how-to files.

Lastly, our professors are really smart people and they do a lot of great research into teaching and learning.  Here is a good research-based primer for math teachers: 

General resources

Get dropbox or use google docs.  Dropbox is cool because you can share your lesson plans and files with all your GSE friends, and that can become a hugely valuable resource.  This year's math kids didn't do it, but the English kids did.   

If you use google docs you might as well set up a google reader for all your math blogs - which you read religiously, every day, right after flossing!  I set up categories in my google reader for "functions" "graphing" "statistics" "awesome" etc and whenever I read an inspiring article I tag it for future use.  Set up some sort of system for organizing cool things you find.

Check out the Khan Academy:  You might as well get familiar with this site, which has around 2,100 videos that explain math, physics, chemistry, history, finance and some other stuff, as well as a growing library of computer-checked problems to go along with each topic.  I used this a couple of times to email videos to my students who missed class, and I think its a great resource! 

For videos, see also:  Additionally, you get tons of hits for videos on a given math topic by typing something like "mixture problems" into youtube.

Odds and ends

Math for Primates is a great podcast by two professors from Portland:  They went on hiatus since one of them is writing a book called Punk Mathematics (!) here:

There are some really great science simulations and applets created by the University of Colorado here:  Also science-y, check out, which is a math/physics based look at sustainable energy.  Lastly, check out, who explains how things work and the engineering behind them.  Awesome! 

Your turn

Hopefully this post has been helpful to you.  I'd really like to hear what resources you have found most useful in your teaching practice.  If you have a great resource, post it to the comments, or put it on your blog and send me a link.  Cheers!