This goes without saying, but 2013-2014 is a very transitional school year for educators across the country. The Common Core math standards are making their mark on curricula as we creep ever faster towards the 2014-2015 deadline.
Now, we know the new standards are not your math curriculum. However, there is a good chance that you may need to adapt certain aspects of your curriculum and instruction methods to incorporate elements of the mathematics standards that may not have previously existed in your scope and sequence.
When it comes to your math curriculum and math lesson plans, we feel online learning provides an engaging and motivating means to reach your students, while also helping you keep instruction in line with standards and goals.
Read below the break to see our list of five easy techniques you can use to seamlessly integrate online math activities into your daily math lesson plans.
1) Focus on one objective at a time
The wealth of online math activities available can make it difficult to narrow down the virtual manipulates, lessons, and games that will truly enhance your students' learning (while staying inline with the lesson's goals and objectives).
You can make the search easier for yourself by focusing on one content objective at a time. Maybe you have a small group of students who need additional reinforcement with their basic multiplication concepts? Seek out an online activity that allows them to practice and develop mastery. Once you have found a resource that meets your needed objective, move on to the next -- one step at a time.
2) Choose educational apps/websites carefully
Be sure to enter your search with a deep understanding of your curriculum in relation to the new standards. Many online math learning resources seem great on the surface but turn out to be not very helpful in the actual classroom.
Our advice is to ensure that your curriculum dictates the chosen educational technology, not the other way around. If you feel like the online tools do not fit into your classroom goals and methods, then they most likely will not work well in practice either.
3) Scaffold with online and offline learning stations
Break students into small groups of four-to-five to help better manage your math instruction time. Also, consider flexible grouping that changes from month-to-month or with each new unit of study.
When creating learning stations, the key is to provide a specific activity at each station for small group learning time, while you meet with a separate group to teach/support a new skill or concept. Rotate centers every 15 to 20 minutes so all students are exposed to each activity. Depending on your technology availability, these stations should vary between online and offline learning (Hint: this is a Rotation blended learning model).
The rotation between learning stations can serve as scaffolding as you help students develop basic skills and apply the higher-order concepts (collaboration, abstract reasoning, modeling, etc.) encouraged by the Standards of Mathematical Practice.
4) Carve out time for specific online learning periods
We often hear educators mention that they want to add online math learning tools into their lessons, but they just simply "run out of time", and we totally understand! Educators have so much on their plate, and the bell often rings becomes before you even know it.
To avoid running out of time for online learning -- whether you're introducing online math learning because it is mandated by your district or you just have a curiosity about what effect it may have on your daily lesson plans --, it is key to purposefully carve out time for the web-based activities within your lesson plans.
5) Use the technology to model and practice activities
Another option for integrating technology is to use a Smartboard or projector system to introduce and play online learning games as a class. This is a good way to introduce games and activities the students are unfamiliar with.
Additionally, if your students have their own tablets or netbooks, you can model the activities in a whole-class setting and then allow the students to try it on their own independently or in a small group/partner setting.
Try this method by beginning or ending each math lesson with a quick, 10-minute online game or activity to reinforce concepts the students have already learned (or will learn).
Tell us about your efforts to incorporate online math learning!
Have you found cool ways to integrate online learning into your math lesson plans? Has online learning helped you and your classroom get ready for the Common Core math standards?