# Sites to See: Middle-School Math

Studies -- and a great deal of anecdotal evidence -- show that many students become turned off by math when they reach middle school. It is particularly important that teachers at this level engage students in math instruction and involve them in their own learning as much as possible. The sites below provide lessons and activities that are interesting, fun, and instructionally valid -- perfect for use at the middle school level.

Cardboard Cognition
The 235 board and card games at this site were created by students at San Diego State University. Students were asked to answer the following questions as they developed educational games in a variety of subject areas:

• How can you identify elements in the content that you want to teach and make them analogous to game elements like suits, ranks, pieces, moves, and chance cards?
• What can be done to ensure that the task of winning the game requires that the player spend more time processing the educational content than thinking about game gimmickry?
• How do you make a game motivating and interesting without losing instructional effectiveness?
• How can you make a game that does all of these things and still has rules that are simple and clear?

The assignment resulted in 13 math games for middle school students and 16 elementary level math games that might also be appropriate for middle schoolers. You can find those 29 at the sites Content and Grade Matrix.

Figure This
Developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, in cooperation with the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Widmeyer Communications, and the Learning First Alliance, Figure This provides challenging middle school mathematics activities that middle-school students can do at home with their families. Each challenge features:

• a description of the math involved
• a note on where the math is used in the real world
• a hint to get started
• complete solutions
• a "Try This" section
• fun facts related to the math
• resources for further exploration.

Mathematics Lessons That Are Fun, Fun, Fun
This site, hosted by Rice Universitys Mathematics Department, provides 23 math activities that really are fun, fun, fun. Topics include counting, fractions, geometry, calculus, graphing, money, calendars, and more.

Middle-School Geometry
Manipula Math provides 91 applets that allow students to manipulate a variety of geometric figures as they explore such concepts as angles and parallel lines, congruent figures and triangles, quadrilaterals and conservation of area, similar figures, circles, and the Pythagorean theory. Similar applets for trigonometry and calculus also can be found at Manipula Math Applet Collection.

Puzzling and Perplexing Problems
These 26 math problems (at least one for each month of the school year) include holidays, seasons, and sports. From the Franklin Institute for Resources in Science Learning, many of the problems are open-ended so students can get extra practice for standardized tests.

Middle School Math Site Lists

Learn about more great sites for students, parents, and educators by visiting Education World's Site Reviews Archives.

Article by Linda Starr
Education World®