Children using the Web to learn math skills
May 11, 1998
Web posted at: 1:41 PM EDT (1341 GMT)
Ind. -- The terms "Fun with Fractions" and "Wonderful World of Geometry"
should elicit moans and groans from second-graders, right?
Not in Annette VanAken's elementary school class.
There, the kids are begging to learn about halves, fourths, and fifths.
They're actually requesting lessons on squares, triangles and circles.
And it's all thanks to a group of college students.
Ms. VanAken's husband, Troy, is an assistant professor of mathematics
at the University of Evansville. VanAken's students developed a series
of Web sites on the Internet to help second-graders master the math
skills they'll need to pass ISTEP+.
The pages, based on Indiana's Math Proficiency Guide, are colorful
and highly interactive, with characters such as Winnie the Pooh and
On the Pooh page, kids can add and subtract Pooh's honey jars. The
Fun with Fractions page includes a group of cartoon kids and asks questions
such as, "What fraction of the kids has blond hair?"
The pages include practice lessons and word problems. If kids get
the right answers, characters dance across the screen.
"It's been absolutely wonderful," Ms. VanAken said. "The kids just
Shawn Southwell, 8, said he likes the geometry.
"It's fun," he said. "I like to learn the solids and the corners.
It (the Internet pages) tells us more about it so we'll know what to
Ms. VanAken and her husband came up with the idea for the Internet
pages while they were brainstorming for each of their classes.
Ms. VanAken wanted fun activities for her students to learn math.
VanAken, who is also vice president for instructional technology at
UE, wanted worthwhile projects for his college students.
"My students have done projects in the past, but it was just stuff
they presented to the class. It had no meaning," VanAken said. "This
was stuff the (Stockwell) students could actually use. That was the
Ms. VanAken provided her husband with the Indiana math proficiencies,
and VanAken gave his students the task of developing Internet pages
for the Stockwell kids.
VanAken instructed his students -- to include links to their own home
pages, where Stockwell kids could e-mail them and ask questions.
"I had my staff work with them so they wouldn't be distracted by all
of the technical stuff," VanAken said.
Eight groups of four college students developed the pages in about
a month and a half. Ms. VanAken and her students began using the pages
VanAken said he couldn't be happier with how well the project is working.
"I'm elated," he said. "You're always dreaming that things will be
really great, but in this case, I can honestly say it turned out as
good as I was dreaming."
Stockwell will begin "looping" teachers next year, which means Ms.
VanAken will have her second-graders for the third grade, too. Since
she'll have the same students, Ms. VanAken plans to expand and reuse
the Internet math program next year.
"We want to do more Web pages and include more subjects like language
arts," she said. "We'd like to do some pages with teaching students
at USI (the University of Southern Indiana)."
Ms. VanAken said the experience the teaching students are getting
from developing the Internet pages is invaluable.
"What they've done is just awesome," she said. "This will make them
To view the Internet pages, go to: www.evansville.edu/m202web, and
select the button labeled "class web projects."
A Java-enabled browser is required to view the pages, and most popular
browser programs such as Internet Explorer 4.0 will work.