Just in time for back-to-school: New distance learning resources are available on Wide Open School.

While the videos have great ideas for teachers, they're not intended to be shown in a classroom. But teachers can certainly watch them to get ideas on how to excite kids about math. Don’t show your kids the video of someone else making the Batman logo with an equation; challenge them to try to figure it out themselves. Many of the activities here would be great if introduced to the whole class but worked on in small groups. Some of the "$1,000,000 challenge" problems might be best used to motivate advanced learners. Slideshow files (PowerPoint, Keynote, .pdf) and worksheets are available to help teachers provide these experiences for their kids.

Continue readingMathPickle is a collection of ideas for teachers who want to engage students with problem-solving puzzles and games. Each lesson idea comes in a short YouTube tutorial for teachers. The lesson ideas cover a variety of topics, and they're all designed to “Put your Kids in a Pickle” to engage their problem-solving skills. Many math concepts from the Common Core Standards are covered, but the site doesn't help you find them, as it's based in Canada.

Aside from some companion books, the site is free and encourages anyone to use and share the resources, as long as they only share exact copies and don't do it for profit. While concepts covered here are thought-provoking and complex, the site itself is bare-bones; basic navigation can be a bit confusing.

MathPickle is the creation of Dr. Gordon Hamilton, a mathematician who believes in teaching math through problem-solving, not memorization. This philosophy is MathPickle's greatest asset –- the puzzles and games are fun, and kids will want to figure them out. Puzzles are thought-provoking and designed to have many potential solutions. In one game, kids are challenged to place a certain number of skyscrapers on a grid to make sure that no three line up in any way. The puzzle is tough, but by using manipulatives, kids are motivated to figure it out.

Content here is organized by math concept and grade level, but it's not Common Core-aligned. Games and puzzles address a variety of high-interest themes. One such example, however, may raise some eyebrows for appropriateness: Under the heading, "War Death and Nastiness Engage Students," one video explains an addition game for kids called "Termite Terrorists," where students are challenged to calculate termites by the "number martyred." Overall, though, most themes here are good-natured and unobjectionable.