The use of web based technology is growing by leaps and bounds every day. These online tools are the new set of keys for opening your students’ minds. The vast resources on the Internet are making the use traditional methods of teaching and learning obsolete in countless ways.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Principles and Standards of School Mathematics (2000) states it quite well (also applicable to teaching and learning science):
- “some math becomes more important because technology requires it”
- “some math becomes less important because technology replaces it”
- “ some math becomes possible because technology allows it”
The use of these web based technology set of keys have the capacity to enhance lessons and engage students in new exciting ways of learning.
Web 2.0 Tools which Support Learning Science and Math
Web 2.0 is recognized as the second generation of the Internet. One of the most noticeable transformations with this second generation is the movement away from static web pages, lifeless purveyors of information, into dynamic and shareable content.
This transformation offers students the ability to spend more time using critical thinking skills to explore math and science concepts. The following are representative online tools which comprise the new set of keys to support teaching and learning in science and math.
Interactive Manipulatives – when you use interactive manipulatives with your students, they have the opportunity to learn the underlying ideas of science and math through modeling and computer simulation. The following are two examples of free online interactive manipulatives.
- National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (NLVM) – this interactive web site offers virtual manipulatives for all grades levels and math concept areas.
- FOSS Web – this is a collection of interactive manipulatives which students can use to explore science concepts and ideas. The site is a compliment for FOSS Science kits. This web site is designed for grades K – 8.
Surveys and Polls – these Web 2.0 tools offer the ability for students to conduct surveys and polls with other students, teachers, and others outside the confine of your classroom or school. The advantage with these online tools is the elimination of time needed for printing, distributing, and collecting a survey or poll instrument.
With less time and resources spent on preparing surveys or polls, students spend more time analyzing and drawing conclusions from their data. The following are two free online tools:
- Obsurvey – offers the ability to create surveys or polls without limitations on number of users, responses, and questions. You or your students can embed a survey or poll in a class or student blog for ease of viewing by potential responders.
- Google Forms – offer the ability to create surveys or polls. Just like Obsurvey there are no limits and responses can be readily transformed in to graphs.
Presentations – there are several Web 2.0 tools for you to use for lesson presentations and for your students use during present data collection techniques, findings, and conclusions for problem solving assignments and project based learning activities. The following are two examples of free online presentation tools.
- Google Presentations – offers the capability to import PowerPoint presentations or create your own. This tool also offers the ability to publish or embed presentations in any website or blog.
- Glogster – offers students the capability to create interactive posters to share project findings and collaborate on class projects. An interactive poster is ideal for use with interactive white boards during student presentations.
Concept Mapping – processing ideas and thoughts related to science and math topics is crucial for helping students develop a more thorough understanding of concepts. The following are two examples of free online concept mapping tools.
- Mind42 – offers simultaneous collaboration for in-class brainstorming sessions and student collaboration outside of class. No installation is required and it is accessible from anywhere or any computer platform. Students can create colorful interactive mind maps using colors, images, links, and a variety of text styles.
- Wise Mapping – uses diagrams to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. You or your students can use it to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, organization of thoughts, developing problem solving strategies, and decision making.
These are just a sample of available Web 2.0 resources as a new set of keys for opening students’ minds in science and math. Please feel free to add your favorites online tools in the comment section.