Top Ten Lists for Using Technology to Help Jr. High and High School Students Learn Mathematics

I. Top Ten Reasons for Using Technology to Help Students Learn Mathematics PowerPoint.

II. Top Thirty-one Interactive Applets to Help Students Learn Mathematical Concepts in the Secondary School Mathematics Curriculum

      1. Desmos - great free online graphing calculator that runs on virtually all devices.
      2. GeoGebra - - "Dynamic Mathematics for Everyone" - does geometry and algebra. This is a fully-developed, multi-feature program. Handout. Desmos and GeoGebra are two of the best math programs on the Internet. Runs in the browser or can be downloaded for free.
      3. Spotting Numbers and Visual Patterns (two different sites) - great for making the trifecta-connection between number patterns, geometry, and algebra.
      4. Line of Best Fit - regression process. See also Best-fit with a Visual Mode: Measuring Error.
Number and Reasoning
      1. Broken Calculator - Problem solving. The dimmed buttons on the calculator are broken (they don't work!). Your goal is to use the buttons that do work to compute the numbers from 1 through 15 or other target numbers.
      2. Fraction Model - Models fractions and mixed numbers with set, area, and length models (NCTM Illuminations).
      3. Coin Problem - Find the counterfeit coin. Four levels of play.
      4. Percent of a number Fill in any two of the three numbers in _% of __ is __. (Virtual Manipulative)
      5. Powers of Ten - View the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth.
      1. GeoGebra - - "Dynamic Mathematics for Everyone" - does geometry and algebra.
      2. Building Houses - 3D visualization.
      3. Point of View Game - 3D visualization. Has multiple levels.
      4. Isometric Drawing Tool - Create dynamic drawings on isometric dot paper. View in 2-D or 3-D.
      5. Platonic Solids and Platonic Solid Duals - Investigate the solids (cube, tetrahedron, ...). Rotate the shape. Shift-click the edges, vertices, and the faces to color (and count them). V - E + F =  ? (Virtual Manipulative)
      6. Pythagorean Theorem - Visual (geometric) demonstrations of the Pythagorean Theorem. (more apps)
      7. Cyberchase Airlines Builder Game - Drag (and sometime rotate) segments to make a spaceship. A spaceship must be an enclosed shape. Fixed perimeter. Find the shapes.
      8. Cut-outs, Nets - This applet folds a 2D net into a 3D object. Click and drag to manipulate the object/net.
      9. Poly - a shareware program for exploring and constructing polyhedra from nets.
      1. Protractor applet - Very nice. Various interactive activities with and without a virtual protractor.
      2. Understanding Distance, Speed, and Time Relationships - explore slope and starting points.
      3. Learning about Rate of Change in Linear Functions Using Interactive Graphs see also Changing Cost per Minute
      1. Spinners - Can make various spinners with equal or unequal regions. Spin once or multiple times. Results table provided.
      2. Ball-Dropping applet - probability and Pascal's Triangle.
Data Analysis
      1. Create a Graph Tool - for students (others) to make statistical graphs (NCES).
      2. Plop It! - Tool for demonstrating how mean, median, and mode change. (Shodor)
      3. Mean and Median - Tool (from NCTM) to show how mean and median change. Also shows the box plot.
Trigonometry & Pre-Calculus
      1. GeoGebra - - "Dynamic Mathematics for Everyone" - does geometry and algebra.
      2. Six Trig Functions - Manipulate the angle and see the results.
      3. Conic Flyer - Manipulate h, k, r, etc. in the equation and see the resulting effects on the graph.
      1. Secant Line and Tangent Line - for calculus - the classic, fix a point on the curve, move another point on the curve to form a tangent....
      2. Surfing Derivatives - demonstrated how tangent line changes as a point (surfer) moves along y=f(x).
      3. Piecewise Functions, Limits, and Continuity - does left-hand, right-hand, and 2-sided limit.

III. Top Six Web Sites with Interactive Applets to Help Students Learn Mathematical Concepts in the Secondary School Mathematics Curriculum

    1. Project Interactivate (from
    2. NCTM Illuminations
    3. Huge Virtual Manipulatives Site (NLVM)
    4. Cyberchase (PBS) Games - Click here for my descriptions and my evaluation of the games.
    5. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

IV. The Three Big Heavy Hitters!

    1. Geogebra - "Dynamic Mathematics for Everyone" - does geometry and algebra. Best math program on the Internet (and it's free). This is a fully-developed, multi-feature program. Easy to learn. Here is a handout I prepared to help get started.
    2. Desmos - Best free online graphing calculator. This is explicitly designed as an education tool. Great Classroom Activities (teacher) area too.
    3. Wolfram Alpha - "Computational Knowledge Engine" very powerful. Watch out! It will do math homework! Created by Wolfram Research (who make Mathematica). Introduction video by Steven Wolfram. See, also Wolfram Alpha's first cousin Wolfram Demonstrations Project.

V. Top Seven Ways to Use a Computer to Enhance Learning in a Mathematics Classroom

    1. One computer and large display for class demonstrations.
    2. Document camera (Elmo, etc.). Also, iPad can be used as a document camera using Justand V2.
    3. Portable iPad lab - wheel the cabinet to the classroom and use the iPad there. (Personal opinion: I've had better luck with iPads than laptops.)
    4. Computer lab - one student (or two students) per computer.
    5. 3-4 computers in the classroom for students to do Quickie Online Activities.
    6. Interactive whiteboard (SmartBoard or other manufacturer)
    7. Interactive Quizzes - students use SmartPhones/iPads/devices to respond to questions on the screen (big one or their own). (e.g.,
      ('8.' See the next list for ways to use a computer to do all the other things a teacher has to do...)

VI. Top Fifteen Web Sites with Ideas and Tools to Help Math Teachers Do Their Work More Effectively

~~~ This needs to be updated ~~~

    1. Google Sites - Free place to make web pages for your class. Easy to update.
    2. Hot Potatoes - Program to make online quizzes. Home page. My handout.
    3. Online Math Games, Demonstration/Exploration Tools, and Puzzles (by Jim Olsen)
    4. Jim Olsenís Teaching Resources page (use find-in-page).
    5. My CCSSM (Common Core) Page
    6. Equation Editor in MSWord. Great way to make math notation look correct from adding fractions to the quadratic formula and beyond.
    7. - Teach with technology. Many tools.
    8. American Mathematics Contests - AMC8, AMC10, AMC12 - great place to find problems. Have your students take the AMC--including at WIU.
    9. PowerPoint (using equation editor) and PowerPoint games.
    10. Mathcounts - great place to find problems.
    11. Eric Weisstein's World of Mathematics - Math World from Wolfram Research. Lot's of interesting topics - many advanced topics.
    12. Math Forum
    13. TI-Connect cable and software - Cable and free software pass information, data, and graphics to and from the TI-calculators and your computer.
    14. Screenr - create screencasts easily and post to Twitter or YouTube.

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©James R. Olsen, Western Illinois University
E-mail: ~ Updated February 21, 2017