Teaching Math Online

Teaching online was never my original goal when I started tutoring. In fact, I didn’t even think it was something I would want to do until a former student told me about being a tutor with VIPKID, a Chinese language learning platform for small children. The company he worked for was quickly trending and gaining popularity in America, so naturally, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. And while I did not join the company he worked for, that experience inspired me to started teaching on my own after delving into the topic of virtual teaching.

There are many online math programs that can help high school students improve their skills. I’ll tell you the best ones.

15 Apps & Websites For Teaching Math Online

However, for some students, the subject can present a real challenge. However, there are many places they can turn to for help that would improve their understanding of the subject. Many schools offer students the ability to get creative with their math resources—turning to apps, websites, and online programs to help them literally solve the problems in front of them.

Students struggling with math can greatly benefit from a helping hand and a few quality learning tools, but where do you turn to find the best math teaching apps and tools?

1. Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a completely free personalized learning resource with online courses, videos, and exercises. Students can complete daily reviews and keep track of their progress within the platform’s learning dashboard. The math tutorials are categorized by subject and by grade level for easy navigation and utilize specialized content—with the help of organizations like NASA, California Academy of Sciences, and The Museum of Modern Art—to bring the lessons to life.

What teachers love: Practice problems provide hints one step at a time, so students can get help when they’re stuck at a specific point, but don’t necessarily need help with the entire problem. This allows them to work things out for themselves and learn at their own pace.

Grade levels: K-12; secondary

2. IXL

While IXL is a subscription-based learning site, it does offer free daily math practice problems. Students can complete ten free questions (in each subject) per day and grow their math skills. The subscription membership includes unlimited practice questions, analytics, certificates, and personalized skill recommendations.

What teachers love: If a student gets a problem incorrect, the program shows all the steps to complete the problem so they can see where they went wrong and learn from their mistakes.

3. Math is Fun

Just as the name implies, Math is Fun aims to make math enjoyable and entertaining. The site uses puzzles, games, quizzes, worksheets, and a forum to help guide students through their learning.

What teachers love: The problems and solutions are all explained in simple language, making it easier for students to learn on their own without the necessity of an adult or teacher to “translate.”

Grade levels: K-12

5. Wolfram MathWorld

MathWorld is a free online resource for everything related to mathematics. The site includes interactive GIFs and demonstrations, downloadable notebooks, and “capsule summaries” for various math terms. Students can explore more than 13,000 entries to strengthen their math foundation and build up their understanding.

What teachers love: The site allows older and more advanced students to really dig deep into mathematics, with topics and articles in several different math-related subjects for a variety of backgrounds and ability levels.

6. Art of Problem Solving

With the Art of Problem Solving, students have three different avenues to get help and resources related to math. The Online School is a gateway for students to enroll in additional math classes and AoPS’ Bookstore offers challenging, in-depth textbooks so students can further explore the subject.

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What teachers love: Students can challenge themselves to dig deeper into the math subjects they find fascinating through moderated message boards, games, and articles.

Grade levels: 2-12

7. Desmos

Desmos is a free online graphing calculator that students can use to graph functions, plot data, and evaluate equations. The site also includes math examples and even creative art—so students can get the most out of the calculator.

What teachers love: The website and program are extremely user-friendly, with an extensive help center; and with Desmos, families don’t have to worry about purchasing a pricey graphing calculator.

Grade levels: 6-12; secondary

8. Prodigy Math Game

Grade levels: K-8

9. Numberphile YouTube Channel

Grade levels: 6-12; secondary

10. edX

Grade levels: 6-12; secondary

11. MIT OpenCourseWare

Grade levels: 6-8

12. How To Learn Math (a free online Stanford University course)

Grade levels: 6-8

13. Mathplanet

Grade levels: 6-8

14. Illustrative Mathematics

Grade levels: 6-8

15. Adapted Mind

Grade levels: K-5

MATH SKILLS PRACTICE

A number of math apps and online tools can help students develop the necessary foundational understanding of arithmetic operations they’ll need as a baseline for more challenging math problems, later on, math teachers told us.

To help younger students practice skills like counting, addition, and subtraction, Ashley Blackwelder, an elementary STEAM coordinator in South Carolina, highly recommends Moose Math, a free app for iPhones and iPads. In Moose Math, students play math games that earn them points to help build a town. Blackwelder says the format is easy for kids to navigate and great for short attention spans.

Curriculum and instructional designer Cassie Tabrizi recommended Happy Numbers (pre-K–grade 5), a subscription-based website ($14.50 per student or $1,450 per site for first-time schools) that breaks down mathematical equations to help students build an understanding of higher-order math concepts. To use it, students transform into a dinosaur characters and solve math problems to hatch dinosaur eggs. Tabrizi said that the website is helpful, but she recommends using it in moderation: It can feel tedious for students if they practice longer than 10 minutes a day.

Students fight monsters in the persona of a wizard in Prodigy (grades 1–8), a free game-based website (also available as an app for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android). Prodigy is loved by kids, but less so by educators, because it is more play-based. Brittney Paige, a fifth-grade teacher in Seattle, says that even though it is more of a game, she likes that it automatically targets math concepts that students struggled with in its preassessment and tracks how much progress they make on target areas. Most teachers offer Prodigy as an option for students if they finish an assignment early.

A prodigy math battle

Courtesy of ProdigyAfter successfully answering a math problem, a student’s pet casts a spell in a battle.

Zearn (grades 1–5), a free, self-paced, web-based program aligned with Eureka Math—a free pre-K through 12 math curriculum—starts a typical lesson with fun warm-up activities, like adding up how many apples a cartoon fox eats, to engage students. As they work through the program, students complete timed arithmetic problems, watch instructional videos on new concepts, and solve practice problems. Shannon McGrath, an instructional coach in Western Springs, Illinois, says that Zearn is good “high-level, conceptual practice” and gives good feedback for both teachers and students, but can sometimes progress too slowly for kids who master concepts quickly.

OPEN MATH TASKS

Open math tasks—problems that typically have more than one answer—help students develop a conceptual understanding of math rather than get hung up on memorizing facts, said math educators we talked to, who consistently mentioned three free websites to use for open math tasks.

Open Middle (pre-K–grade 12) leaves parts of an equation blank and asks students to fill them in to make it true. “I love Open Middle for remote learning, especially paired with a Google Jamboard,” says McGrath. “The problems inspire inquiry thinking, gamelike play, creativity, and perseverance.”

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A set of four graphs from the website Which One Doesn't Belong?

Courtesy of Mary Bourassa/Which One Doesn’t BelongUsing “Which One Doesn’t Belong?” Mary Bourassa’s calculus students make a mathematical argument why each graph is the odd one out.

McGrath also likes Would You Rather Math (pre-K–grade 12) for community building. When using the site, students choose between two real-life examples—like a box of chocolates with five rows and 14 columns or a box of chocolates with seven rows and nine columns—and have to make a mathematical argument to validate their choice.

Which One Doesn’t Belong? (pre-K–grade 12), a similar site showcases four shapes, numbers, or graphs and asks students to describe which one doesn’t belong, using math vocabulary. “This is great for opening a synchronous discussion, as it is considered a low-floor, high-ceiling task,” says Joseph Manfre, a math specialist for the Hawaii Department of Education. High school math teacher Mary Bourassa has her calculus students identify reasons why each graph in a set of four doesn’t belong by indicating graph characteristics like asymptotes and non-differentiable points, and later has her students create their own WODB sets.

RICH MATH TASKS

For rich math tasks—tasks that lend themselves to rigor, collaboration, and conceptual thinking—math educators noted a couple of websites.

A lot of shapes within a square

Courtesy of Bryan Penfound/Fraction TalksStudents uses this image from Fraction Talks to practice adding and multiplying fractions. The bottom corner section represents ½ x ¼ = ⅛.

Fraction Talks (grades 1–12) is a website filled with images of shapes—triangles within triangles, for example—that encourages math discussions. Simply asking students, “What do you observe?” can prompt them to share what and how many shapes they notice while asking “How many shapes are red or shaded?” encourages students to explore and understand fractions. Once students have a basic understanding of fractions, they can start to explore more complex concepts. By prompting students to look at subsections of a shape—and what fractions they created when combined—Bryan Penfound helped his seventh- and eighth-grade students to visualize adding and multiplying fractions.

Visual Patterns (K–grade 12) shows the beginning of a pattern—like several boxes in a grid—then asks students to figure out the equation to fit the pattern. “Even though there is only one answer,” says Manfre, “you can ask deeper questions with these kinds of tasks, and engage students with mathematics in its more natural, visual form.”

Three sets of blocks in an increasing number

Courtesy of Visual PatternsStudents needs to identify the equation for this pattern.

SIMULATION TOOLS

According to math teachers, simulations, like manipulating an expression and seeing a change in a graph, are great tools to help students visualize math concepts.

An SEL graphing assignment check-in with Desmos

Courtesy of Ashley TaplinAshley Taplin, a secondary math specialist, had her students graph how they felt during the first week of distance learning.

Applets—a simple code with a specific objective—were mentioned by a few teachers as a good resource. Emma Chiappetta’s statistics students use applets from RossmanChance.com to manipulate and identify sampling distribution patterns in graphs, for example. She creates a basic guide on how to use the applet with which values to change and then asks questions to get students thinking critically about those patterns. Chiappetta also uses applets from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for her linear algebra students.

Desmos (grades 6–12), a website with interactive math activities and a graphing calculator (also available as an app on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android), is another free tool and a favorite among teachers, we heard. While social and emotional learning (SEL) and math may not seem to go hand in hand, teachers integrated SEL into math lessons using Desmos. In the first week of distance learning, Ashley Taplin, a secondary math specialist in San Antonio, Texas, had her students graph how they were feeling, for example. Taplin says she particularly loves that teachers can make their own activities—like this one about parabolas and this card sort, where students match cards with the name, corresponding equation, and correct graphical representation of a function. 

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Learning Management Systems

There’s lots of places where math can be taught digitally and remotely. Below we’ve given you a quick overview of the most popular Learning Management Systems, some of which your school or district may already be using.

Canvas

Canvas is brimming with tools and content that Make learning simpler yet smarter—and keep everyone and everything connected from anywhere.More about Canvas

Canvas logo
Brightspace logo

Brightspace

Brightspace: In-line annotations, assessment hub, grade book, video and audio feedback, and rubrics within Brightspace make it easy for you to assess any type of activity, including electronic and paper submissions and observational assessments in the class and within the field. Learn more about Brightspace

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Schoology

Schoology has every tool your classroom needs and comes pre-integrated with more than 200+ tools, student information systems (SIS), and education platforms

Blackboard logo

Blackboard

Blackboard – With a modern, intuitive, fully responsive interface, Blackboard Learn™ delivers a simpler, more powerful teaching and learning experience that goes beyond the traditional learning management system

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Moodle

Moodle – The world’s free learning platform that helps you create effective online teaching and learning experiences in a collaborative, private environment

Online Math Platforms

There are loads of popular online math platforms that might spark your interest, let’s take a look:

ALEKS

ALEKS is a research-based, online learning program that offers course products for Math, Chemistry, Statistics, and more

ALEKS icon

Edgenuity

Learning happens in layers and levels. That’s why Edgenuity offers a full suite of K–12 online learning solutions for schools and districts that is backed by intuitive technology that gives educators the resources they need to plan lessons, execute goals, measure success, and intervene when necessary

IXL Math

Gain fluency and confidence in maths! IXL helps students master essential skills at their own pace through fun and interactive questions, built-in support, and motivating awards.

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EquatIO

EquatIO- We couldn’t make a list of all the math teaching apps without mentioning EquatIO. It allows you to create equations, formulas, and more, digitally. Helping to make math and STEM classes more accessible and engaging for every student

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Desmos

Desmos – This free suite of math tools, including the renowned Desmos Graphing Calculator and Scientific Calculator, are used annually by over 40 million teachers and students around the world. 

Khan Academy

Khan Academy – This free resource is suitable for teachers and parents, it’s easy to use and can help fill gaps in student’s knowledge. Learn more about Khan Academy

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GeoGebra

GeoGebra is an interactive geometry, algebra, statistics, and calculus application, intended for learning and teaching mathematics and science from primary school to university level

Prodigy

Prodigy – Connecting in-class learning to practice at home, this free resource offers math games that make practice fun. 

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Conclusion

Math can be a hard subject to understand at times. Students often get confused and frustrated when it’s explained to them because teachers may use multiple methods and give the same explanation in different ways. This makes it extremely difficult for students to connect the dots and see how everything fits together. That is where I come in. I’m a mother and also a student myself who has been passionate about math since second grade when I realized that math was my strongest subject. I was always interested in solving problems and would often just figure things out without any help from my teacher or anyone else for that matter. Anyone could teach me math, but I never had anyone who could explain it to me better than I could figure it out on my own.

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