Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Online Tools for Students Struggling with Algebra

Algebra can be a touchy subject for any student to master and since each concept builds on the next, it can be easy to fall behind.  Luckily, there are a lot of free resources available online to help.  With these resources, a student could:
  • catch up with classmates before they fall behind
  • work on a concept they didn't quite master in class
  • do some pre-learning before a new concept is introduce
  • try learning difficult concepts in a new way
  • or even move ahead if they aren't feeling challenged enough
There are a lot of great math learning resources out there but here are three free ones that we really like!

Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a website that contains thousands of videos on math and other topics.  These videos walk you step-by-step through math concepts as basic as arithmetic to as advanced as calculus.  Most concepts are introduced in a visual manner as you view a digital white board that the instructor writes on.

You can also use their Knowledge Map to see which math concepts yu need to practice by taking short quizzes.  If you are having any difficulties with a particular math concept, the visual Knowledge Map will show you the skills you need to master in order to learn that concept.

Progress on the site is tracked and users can earn badges for reaching certain goals.  You can even assign the student a coach who can view their progress and see where they are struggling.  Khan Academy is a popular tool for schools and has also branched out to other topics like science, economics and computer programming.

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
This website offers visual tools for both learning and working on math skills by solving them visually.  Developed by Utah State University, these interactive web based tools are broken down by math topic and grade level.  In addition to giving instructions with some of the tools, you can enter a math problem and the student solves them visually.

Although these are great tools, they have not been updated since 2010 and might look a little dated.  We also found that with some browsers, you may have to adjust your security settings for Java, which your browser should alert you about.

HippoCampus
HippoCampus is a website filled with lessons and exercises on math and other topics like biology, chemistry, and more.  Here you can watch instructional videos from various creators and organizations.  This can give a student the opportunity to see a difficult concept taught in different ways.

The NROC project provides an entire video course in algebra on HippoCampus that a student can follow along with.  Each section of the course includes a warm up, an interactive practice section, a presentation, an interactive review and work examples.

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