This was a great assignment! At first I was disappointed that I couldn’t use software I already knew about, since I know some great software, but I found three different things I can use in my class!
Each category will be rated on a scale from 1 to 5.
Cost: Is the software worth the cost?
Application: How useful will the software be for my classes?
Student interest: Will the students enjoy using the software?
Ease of use: Is the software likely to work in class with no problems?
- Calculus in Motion™, Dynamic animations ready for use in the classroom
Google search for “ap calculus visualization,” 5th result.
This application is made for AP Calculus students and college-level Calculus students. It provides interactive visualizations for 80 Calculus concepts and 142 past AP Free Response questions, which is extremely cool. The graphics and site design look like they’re from the 1990’s, but the AP exam reference material goes up to the most recent year. Also a relic of the past is the way to order it—you must actually send in an order form by snail mail, which I haven’t seen on any other website this millennium. Even worse, the software costs $150—only likely to be cost-effective if covered by your school. It also seems unlikely that an application with such an old-fashioned ordering system will be able to update with the new AP exam. It works on any PC or Macintosh with a CD drive, which my usual laptop does not have.
Cost: 1. Too expensive, unfortunately.
Application: 5. This is exactly relevant to my AP Calculus classes.
Student interest: 4. It always helps to see a visualization.
Ease of use: 4. The demo looks cool and expansive.
- PhET Interactive Simulations
Google search for “high school probability simulations,” 5th result.
This website contains many simulations of various concepts in various subjects at various grade levels. I’ve displayed only “high school,” and most of the simulations seem to be based on science rather than math, but there is a great visualization of a Least-Squares Regression line with various data sets with various correlations that I probably will use with my Statistics class when I get there. I tried out that and a very cool estimation game that I can use with my 5th-graders. The simulations are expected to work on a PC, Mac, Chromebook or iPad.
Cost: 5. Simulations are free!
Application: 3. I’ve only found 2 I can actually use in a math class, but they are good enough that I think I will use them.
Student interest: 4. The kids will love the estimation game, and estimation is an important skill.
Ease of use: 5. I needed no instructions to work this exactly as intended.
- STEM Collaborative
Google search for “middle school math simulations,” 1st result.
This website contains scores of simulations for every possible middle school math concept. I can absolutely use them for my advanced 5th-grade class, and I think they’ll really enjoy them. It has games and visualizations for concepts I didn’t even know we needed, and includes lesson plans, teacher guides, classroom tips, and CCSS alignment for each simulation. They work perfectly with my browser (Chrome running on a PC), but I can’t find compatibility information, and I’m pretty good at finding things.
Cost: 5. Simulations are free!
Application: 5. These display important concepts that my kids need.
Student interest: 5. These are fun!
Ease of use: 4. They are easy to use, but through no fault of the software, I don’t know how I’m getting kids on computers when our class is in the Spanish room.