Friday Finds: PurpleMath.com

December 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm Leave a comment

It started one embarrassing day when my resource student began to learn about factoring quadratic equations. Now, I teach elementary/middle school. In my day, you didn’t meet one of these until at least the middle of high school, and I don’t think I understood them until college – and even that was, ahem, x years ago. The textbook was no help. I excused the student from homework that night and went home with a headache.

Then I found PurpleMath.com. Their “factoring hard quadratics” page here did more than just clarify the lesson – it introduced a graphic method that I’d never seen before but made the entire process simpler and more organized. The lesson included clear, step-by-step examples, and a quiz that went through the steps one at a time instead of just leaving you to figure out how to independently apply the new skill, as most web quizzes I’ve seen do.

I was so excited to bring the strategy to my student the next day, and we both shared the heady feeling of being able to easily and accurately do something that had been beyond us just yesterday.

The content is very thorough and covers topics relevant to middle school through college. It is geared to students but, as in my case, can be helpful to teachers too, especially in elementary grades where you need not be a math specialist to have math on your curriculum. Even if you are naturally good at math, it can help to see the steps clearly explained in a way that your students will understand. A clearer understanding of the math will help you teach it more clearly.

The site also includes a forum for users to submit questions. There’s a lot of homework help going on there, and it seems to be up-to-date and reasonably active, if not really buzzing (I guess math homework isn’t that viral).

All the content is free and organized decently. You can download the lessons on CD for a reasonable price. There are ads but all I have seen so far are appropriate and unobtrusive. I would feel very comfortable directing students to this site for extra help.

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Entry filed under: Friday Finds, Math, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , .

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