Tool for the Field: Using Online Math Resources


The purpose of this tool for the field is to give you and your students access to two online resources available for supplementing math instruction. Links to additional resources are provided in the “Links for More Information” section of this unit.


  1. Locate a computer with Internet access. (Note: If you have another device with Internet connection, such as an iPad or smart phone, you may be able to use that.)
  2. Explore and reflect on the resources available through the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (NLVM).
  3. Go to the NLVM homepage at
  4. Notice that the entry screen is divided into 20 separate blocks based on grade level and type of math. Click on one of the blocks for the math level of students you work with (or that you have interest in working with).
  5. You will see a list of specific manipulatives available for that level and area of math. Click on one of the manipulatives that sounds interesting to you.
  6. If you can see the manipulative, go to Step 7. If you receive an error about Javascript, either click on the link to install Java or click on the button provided to download the NLVM app and use it without Java.
  7. Spend about 5-10 minutes playing around with the manipulative.
  8. Reflect on your experience. What concept is the manipulative designed to teach? Do you think students would like the manipulative? Would it be effective in helping them learn the concept? Not every student learns well from manipulatives, and even for the ones who do, some manipulatives work better than others. Can you think of a student for whom these virtual manipulatives would be useful?
  9. Explore and reflect on the Khan Academy site.
  10. Go to the Khan Academy homepage at
  11. Click on the drop-down menu by the word “Subjects” at the top of the page. Select “Math” and then the grade level most appropriate for your work or interest.
  12. You will see a screen with several different main topics. Select any main topic, which will take you to a set of subtopics. The subtopics with a triangle beside them are videos and the subtopics with stars beside them are practice exercises.
  13. Watch one video and do one set of practice exercises.
  14. Reflect on your experience. How effective do you think the Khan site’s approach to teaching would be for students? How is this website different from the NLVM website? Some people have commented that the NLVM site teaches concepts and the Khan site teaches procedures. Both concepts and procedures are important for learning math. Just like with the NLVM site, not all students will respond well to Khan-style videos and exercises. Can you think of a student who would learn well using these resource materials?