top of page

Math Research and Cool Tools

by Nancy Bley, M.A., Special Education Consultant

In recent years there has been a lot learned about how to teach math to all students. This article provides only a short introduction to the exciting and new things going on in the area of math. Much of what has been, and is continuing to be learned is related to:

  1. Introducing algebraic concepts at an earlier age;

  2. Continued use of a number line;

  3. The importance of fractions in predicting student success;

  4. The interaction of reading and math;

  5. Effective use of technology; and

  6. The importance of working memory and executive functioning.

As educators many of us have intuitively been aware of the importance of these ideas. We know, for example:

  1. Children know that what is hidden under the cup, box, book, etc. is unknown until we look at it.

  2. Young children can understand the idea of an unknown even though they are too young to connect it to “x”.

  3. These different shapes are beginning introductions to the concept of an “unknown” in algebra.

Reading skills impact math

If a student has trouble reading math can be hard. They may understand concepts but if their reading skills impede their ability to understand directions or read and comprehend a word problem they are likely to fall behind their peers.

Teachers are aware that their students are anxious and often don’t remember new information. Current research has shown the areas of the brain where anxiety and working memory are affected. As this research is improving so is the understanding of the interaction of anxiety and working memory as well as the importance of effective use of technology. Along with this progress there are more apps and websites available that make good use of what has been learned. Only a few are listed below. In the author’s opinion these sites and tools reflect ease of use for busy educators and the application of practical reliable information from research.

Apps to build math skills:

  1. Math Drills (Mac, iPad and iPhone), by Instant Interactive, is an especially good app as the teacher or student can assign specific facts for learning. The screen is easy to read and the information is easy to input.

  2. Bitsboard (iPad), by Teachers can make a variety of worksheets, quizzes, and games that can be played on the iPad and also printed out. Pictures can be incorporated. It comes with a wide variety of boards and others can be added. The one drawback is there is not a text to speech or speech to text option.

Websites to build math skills:

  1. is a wonderful, online site which can be accessed via the web as well as through apps. The site includes apps that address place value, fractions, number sense, to name a few. The site and the apps can easily be customized, printed and saved.

  2. A step by step calculator is available at as either an online tool or as a download. It is easy to read, allows input from the keyboard and also shows fractions and mixed numbers in vertical format.

1 view0 comments


bottom of page