Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mathalicious is delicious! So are Open Educational Resources (OER)

"If you haven’t heard, there is a new movement in education and it’s called OER which stands for Open Educational Resources". This is a statement taken from the Innovative Educator blog which lists many sites rich in resources. One of the great ideas of 21st century learning is sharing and non-proprietary, collaborative resources. I'm not sure why we would ever crack another textbook!

One of the sites on the OER list is mathalicious. Wow! I can't believe this stuff is out there. If you are a classroom teacher this is just too juicy. As Alan November once said to us, "This stuff is low hanging fruit!" These resources "can" fit so well with what Dan Meyer, Paul Lockhart, Conrad Wolfram, Alfie Kohn and many others are saying about learning math. These multi-media activities are truly impressive, engaging, creative and are aimed at middle years to high school students.

Notice I said can fit so well. If you take a look at the activities they are very engaging and well put together. An example is the tunnel digging activity for ratio and proportion. If you take a close look it is really just traditional problem solving questions put in an engaging way. All the information is given, as Dan Meyer says, the way is paved for them to find the answer, no deep thinking is needed about the processes involved. For my taste, the questions give too much information for them to be process oriented, creative problem solving opportunities. For example, the simple question I would ask is "How much dirt would have to be removed to dig the tunnel?" I would not mention volume, I would not give numbers. As Paul Lockhart says, "let them struggle, then give them some technique, but not too much".

They also give links to favorites of mine like HippoCampus and the Khan Academy.

Among the other OER resources listed are:

Carnegie Mellon University (OLI)

· Curriki·

Open CourseWare Consortium·

Flatworld Knowledge·


Digital Library for Earth Science Ed··

Math Archives·


National Science Digital Library·



  1. Tim:

    Great comments re: Mathalicious lessons being a bit too scaffolded for your taste. I can understand why you think that they at times provide "too much information." On the other hand, there are many teachers out there--particularly new teachers who are still developing their pedagogical skills--who need this explicit scaffolding, and finding the right balance continues to be one of the top priorities.

    That said, we're currently developing a new website, which will include a number of new resources for teachers. This will include a teacher's guide to accompany each lesson, which will allow us to remove some of the questions from the handouts & slideshow presentations. The goal is to allow the lessons to be as flexible and "explorational" as possible, while still ensuring that teachers of all experience levels will successfully cover the required standards.

    Anyway, great thoughts.


  2. Karim,

    thanks for the information, loved the site mathalicious and will use it a lot. Glad you understood my current ideas on "scaffolding". Good to hear you are continuing to be involved with such a great project. Keep it coming!