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Northcote, M. (2015). For the technologically challenged: Four free online tools to liven up a mathematics classroom. Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 20(2), 22-33. Retrieved from


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This article focuses on the use of a handful of free online tools that can be used to liven up and support mathematics learning in lessons and activities that take place inside or outside the primary mathematics classroom. While some of these tools have been purposefully developed for use in mathematics learning contexts, others have been developed for different purposes, quite apart from mathematics. Tools such as the interactive number board ( and virtual chance tools such as virtual dice ( and virtual spinners ( are examples of online tools that have been purposefully designed for use in mathematics learning activities. The online stopwatch ( can be used when students are learning about many aspects of the Australian Curriculum, especially the Content Descriptions focused on "using units of measurement" and "explaining time durations". However, language-based tools such as Wordle (, a word cloud creator, and the online game-creation tool, Quizlet (, have not necessarily been created with mathematics in mind. Despite the original intention of their design, this article outlines methods in which these two language-based online tools can be used in mathematics learning and teaching contexts.

As well as recognising the functional uses of the five online tools presented in this article, they have also been evaluated in terms of their capacity to engage and motivate students in primary mathematics classrooms. Attard's framework for engagement with mathematics in the primary classroom acknowledges the powerful role of motivation in engagement as well as the value of acknowledging students' views about engagement in mathematics lessons (Attard, 2012a, 2012b). In their discussion of the value of hands-on and virtual manipulatives, Swan and Marshall (2010) reviewed Perry and Howard's research on mathematics manipulative materials (Perry & Howard, 1997). Their work extends our understanding of hands-on mathematics manipulative materials to incorporate the use of virtual mathematics manipulatives. Together, these researchers and educators provide a contextual backdrop in which the theme of engagement in the mathematics classroom informs an evaluative guide that can be used to determine the quality of an online tool for mathematics learning in primary schools.

This article presents a review of five technological tools that primary mathematics teachers and students can use in mathematics activities inside and outside their primary school classrooms. Each of the five tools outlined in this article have been classified and evaluated according to the Enhanced Engagement Evaluation Guide above.


Used by permission: Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers Inc. and the author

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