How can 300 students, miles from their home, face a multitudinous hoard of mathematical concepts, relentlessly keen to flay children into an uncomprehending puddle?
Easy. Use Math 300.
This program is from Australia, and about 18 months ago I joined ISB colleagues and attended a workshop in Beijing that introduced us to the philosophy of Math 300, a wide variety of activities, as well as the software that can be used as a lesson resource.
In short, the philosophy of Math 300 revolves around open-ended mathematical investigations, that have multiple entry and exit points, as well as plenty of scope for differentiation.
If you are subscribed member, you can log into their site, and then search for lessons that fit your particular topic, i.e fraction estimation. A list of lessons will then come up, and you can click on the "overview" and "lesson" links to provide information on how to use the lesson. Details for using the software is also provided.
As ISB has a subscription, all of the laptops I use in grade 6 have the software installed. I start the lesson by getting the kids interested in what we are doing, by providing a scenario or real-world hook to get them into the problem. Then the kids gather round the smartboard, and I go through a few fun examples so that everyone understands the goal of the lesson. Then students get to it, using one-laptop per kid (one between two can also suffice).
The advantages of using this program are many-fold; it is interactive; the games/quizzes/challenges are usually instantly self-grading, so kids can keep track of their progress (the nintendo effect); parameters can be easily adjusted to make activities more/less challenging.
I have used Math 300 on many occasions, and find that it certainly has some excellent lessons. The next step for me is to see where it can be best used as a support and/or enrichment for our current program, the Connected Math Project.