EdGems Research

EdGems is dedicated to research. We were founded specifically to offer our client school districts the best research we can find about the effectiveness of digital educational content, and then help those districts with their digital content selection. We work hard to insure that the content districts want is well organized and efficiently delivered to their teachers and students.

The EdGems research process includes careful review of grade-specific and subject-specific research and recommendations generated by a diverse cross- section of educational content research efforts. Some of the sources for this research include:

  • State Departments of Education and their state-funded education initiatives, such as: the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN); the California Mathematics Project; the Ohio Department of Education; the State of Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction; the Utah Educational Network; and others;
  • Universities, such as Carnegie Mellon University; Columbia University; the University of California at Berkeley; the University of Georgia; Loyola University; the University of Maryland; Utah State University; the Worchester Polytechnic Institute, and more;
  • Educational research organizations and independent educational resource reviewers, such as: Achieve; the Charles A. Dana Center; edshelf; edSurge; Edutopia; EQuiP (Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products); Graphite; IMET (Instructional Materials Evaluation Tool); the New Jersey Educators Resource Exchange; the Noyce Foundation; the Silicon Valley Education Foundation; Student Achievement Partners; and others;
  • Curriculum agencies, such as the National Council of the Teachers of Mathematics; EduCore/ASCD; and others;
  • School districts, such as Howard County Public Schools, Maryland; the nine school districts of Washington State’s Learning Source; and more;
  • Federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation;
  • Teachers’ organizations, such as the American Federation of Teachers.

We help the districts by organizing links to the digital content they have purchased or to free content that meets their needs for each standard. Ongoing feedback from the districts regarding usage helps us update the library of linked content.

As part of our review, we use a progression scale to help our districts see where each of the content resources they might use falls on a spectrum of evaluation levels, and where that resource has been vetted for alignment to a state’s adopted standards.  It's important to note that the level of research conducted by content providers or independent evaluators does not correlate to a particular level ofimproved learning outcomes.  EdGems bases its progression scale on available research.  Some content providers do not provide all of their research to the public.  It's also important to note that Common Core alignment of a particular resource used in EdGems does not mean that all of a content provider's resources are aligned with the CCSS in Mathematics.

The EdGems 5-Level Research Progression Scale:


The linked content asset has been aligned to the content standards by a credible process.


The linked content has been aligned to content standards and reviewed and rated by educators according to a list of qualitative review criteria.


The linked content has been standards-aligned and reviewed by users, and clearly shows that there was a research basis for the various instructional strategies and content incorporated into the program.


The linked content addresses Levels 1, 2, and 3, and the content creators have contracted with an external evaluation agency to conduct controlled studies using a design that is appropriate to the type of content being researched, and is planning to fund research on the product


Credible research for the linked content has been conducted using a quasi-experimental design that is appropriate to the content andprovides findings that can be generalized to a variety of settings.

Always updating:

As schools and districts continue to implement the use of digital content to meet their evolving needs, and as new research is conducted for aligned digital resources, EdGems is dedicated to helping content providers match their content to users and to helping users make choices about the types of content that meet their needs – all based on research. EdGems invites content providers to submit published research for review so that vetting criteria reflect the most accurate and current information.


For 2015-2016, EdGems links to the learning resource providers below, which are in addition to instructional resource providers selected by the district. Following this list is a description of the resource provider, corresponding published research or reviews, and where the content falls on the 1-to-5 Research Progression.

alt text The Actuarial Foundation: CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • The University of California, Berkeley (College & Career Academy Support Network)
  • The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Based in Illinois, the Actuarial Foundation, through a partnership with Scholastic Inc., provides instructional resources and activities aligned with the Common Core and NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) standards for students in grades 4-12. These resources are a part the foundation’s “Expect the Unexpected with Math” program, designed to support mathematical achievement in young people. The foundation also provides educational content for the “MathCounts” school handbook, an annual publication of over 300 math challenges that meet the NCTM standards in grades 6-8 to help prepare middle school students for the MathCounts national math competition

alt text BrainingcampCCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • edshelf

Brainingcamp is an online, visual and interactive technological tool that provides visual lessons, interactive virtual manipulatives, and other ways to help students to understand abstract concepts in a more concrete manner.

EdSurge.org Review

“Brainingcamp offers browser-based middle school math software (though subject-based apps are also being developed) that has been designed around the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics focal points and state math standards for grades 6-8. It can be used to introduce concepts or to make abstract concepts more concrete and visually understandable. Students start with short 5-10 minute lessons covering more than 50 topics, which introduce math concepts using animations and narrations. Then, students can explore the interactive models (“virtual manipulatives”), answer questions, and play games based on real-world scenarios. Teachers or parents can find activities according to standard, and also view real-time progress reports with detailed data showing what students have worked on and how well they have performed (though only on certain multiple-choice questions, not on open-ended problems).”

alt text Buzzmath CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

BuzzMath is a platform where middle school students develop mathematics competencies corresponding to the Common Core standards. The project issues Open Badges aligned to these standards as students complete activities.

It is one of 30 winning Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition projects, an initiative supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and administered by HASTAC (the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) through Duke University and University of California-Irvine, in partnership with the Mozilla Foundation.

Graphite Review:
Is It Good For Learning?

You might consider adopting Buzzmath as your middle school math curriculum for grades 6, 7, and 8, not just because of its complete and aligned content, but also for the monitoring tools it gives teachers. Just-in-time instruction gives kids what they need when they need it. Kids work at their own pace and can learn from their mistakes through multiple opportunities to master each question.

A digital calculator is always available, but most questions involve more than simple calculation asking kids to use number properties to calculate mentally or to select the proper unit as part of the answer. Skip the initial guides and explanations; the interface is quite simple and usable without the up front time investment.

Independent Research:

“After eight years and approximately twenty different online software programs, BuzzMath emerged as the program that more students prefer.” says Mr. Ashendorf, credit recovery math teacher in Newport-Mesa District, CA. “Following an initial assessment, my students select one out of six software programs for their educational plan. Students often found. Yet after trying BuzzMath, try several before a good fit is students stay with it.”

In Canada, BuzzMath (known in Canada as Netmaths) conducted research studies with a group of teachers from New Brunswick, Canada in 2013, paid for by the Quebec Research Culture Society and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Among the findings: “Results show an appreciation of the rich educational potential the virtual tools bring and the pedagogical scenarios that come with them. Participants suggest that working with simulators would increase students’ motivation and deepen their conceptual understanding of concepts that are otherwise hard to grasp. But they, however, lack professional development on how to teach probability and need techno-pedagogical and didactical follow-ups.”

alt text EngageNY CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • EQuiP
  • Achieve

EngageNY.org is developed and maintained by the New York State Education Department. In order to assist schools and districts with the implementation of the Common Core, they have provided curricular modules and units in PreK-12 ELA and Math that can be adopted or adapted for local purposes. Algebra 1 consists of a high-level outline (curriculum map and module overview/assessment bundle) for instruction and a set of curriculum materials following that outline – including topic overviews, daily lesson plans, extensive problem sets, guiding questions, examples of proficient student work, and other materials.

EngageNY used the following criteria to insure alignment with the Common Core State Standards:

Publishers’ Criteria;

Tri-State Quality Review Rubric and Rating Process (composed of educators from New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island and facilitated by Achieve);

Math Content Emphasis (featured in the PARCC Model Content Frameworks for Mathematics)

The Math Toolkit (based on research from Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study; the Institution of Education Sciences, and the Math Department of UC Berkeley).

EngageNY’s Algebra curriculum at the high school level was independently researched by the State of Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction using review criteria from EQuiP, Achieve OER, and IMET.

alt text GeoGebra CCSS Alignment Vetted By:

  • OER Commons

Geogebra was designed to enhance the extent to which a student can visualize mathematical concepts and enables them to represent mathematical models in various ways. Geogebra is used throughout the world, and continues to be developed at the University of Florida through a National Science Foundation project.

Graphite Review
“What’s GeoGebra Like?

GeoGebra offers kids and teachers the option of using existing math explorations or building their own. The existing pool of explorations is vast, so it covers most high school Common Core math expectations, especially those involving graphing or geometry. Activities are built and shared by anyone who wants to be an author, so quality varies greatly. Many, like “Calculating Mean, Standard Deviation, 5-Number Summary, IQR,” do not provide specific directions for kids.

However, GeoGebra gives kids a way to access math that moves beyond straightforward pencil-
and-paper computations. Traditional methods of performing constructions with a compass and a ruler can be time-consuming and frustrating for kids. GeoGebra makes it quick, easy, and fun as long as the kids have clear directions.

Is GeoGebra Good For Learning?
Teachers will need to spend some time with the extensive tutorials in order to familiarize themselves with the program and its capabilities. The administer tutorials provide options to let teachers incorporate GeoGebra into their existing class sites using Moodle, WordPress, and other options.

How Can Teachers Use It?
GeoGebra is a free software program that lets kids create mathematical constructions and models. They drag objects and adjust parameters to explore algebra and geometry simultaneously. GeoGebra also lets teachers make their own interactive worksheets or use free materials created by others.

After you click on Download from the homepage, the site gives you the option to use WebStart or Applet Start. WebStart downloads a program using your computer, requires Java, and gives you an icon on your desktop. Applet Start is fully functional and just uses your browser window.

A number of independent studies have been conducted on the efficacy of Geogebra’s instructional resources at the high school level. Several of those studies (listed below) correlate the use of Geogebra to increased test scores in transformations, coordinate geometry, and trigonometry.”

Bakar, K. A., Ayub, A. F. M., & Tarmizi, R. A. (2002). “Exploring the effectiveness of using GeoGebra and e-transformation in teaching and learning Mathematics”. Proc. of Intl. Conf. of Advanced Educational Technologies EDUTE, 2, 19-23.

Saha, R., Ayubb, A., & Tarmizi, R. (2010). ” Procedia Social and Behavioral Science, 8, 686-693.

Zengin, Y., Furkan, H., & Kutluca, T. (2012). “The effect of dynamics mathematics software geogebra on student achievement in teaching of trigonometry”. Procedia Social and Behavorial Sciences, 31 , 183-187.

alt text Illuminations: NCTMCCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • The Ohio Department of Education
  • New York City Department of Education
  • Los Angeles Unified School District

“In this lesson, students model linear data collected in a variety of settings that range from car repair to sports to medicine. Students can work alone or in small groups to construct scatterplots, interpret data points and trends, and investigate the line of best fit. Activity sheets, guiding questions, and lesson extensions are provided for three applied data contexts.”

Illuminations is a project designed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and supported by the Verizon Foundation. Illuminations features digital lessons and interactive materials that can be used to help teachers understand and apply the NCTM Principals and Standards for School Mathematics.

Each of Illumination’s web resources has been reviewed and approved by a panel of experts. Links to Exemplary Sites must meet the following three criteria:

  1. The mathematics is accurate
  2. The website fosters understanding or supports implementation of the NCTM Principals and Standards for School Mathematics.
  3. The website is well organized, easy to navigate, and well maintained.

Each of the web resources has been reviewed and approved by a panel of experts. Sites are chosen based on review and approval by the Illuminations Advisory Panel.”

alt text Illustrative Mathematics CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • Student Achievement Partners
  • The National Science Digital Library
  • The Delaware Department of Education
  • The New Hampshire Department of Education
  • The Oregon Department of Education
  • The State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • The Utah Education Network

Illustrative Mathematics represents a community of educators directed by Dr. Bill McCallum — one of the lead authors for the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics — dedicated to the coherent learning of mathematics. Its materials provide guidance to educators by illustrating the range and types of mathematical work that students experience in a faithful implementation of the CCSS.
The Illustrative Mathematics examples are vetted problems that serve in illustrating and clarifying the CCSSM, but more importantly give both teachers and teacher leaders an understanding of mathematics and skills in using it. The example problems are linked as teacher intervention resources on the Illustrative Mathematics website (www.illustrativemathematics.org).

alt text IXL CCSS Alignment Vetted by::

  • Indian River Central School District, New York

Graphite Review

“What’s IXL Like?
IXL has a whopping 2,000 math-practice modules that meet nearly all the Common Core math standards. You’ll find Pre-K games covering the fundamentals through high school lessons and learning activities on geometry, how to graph equations, or the Pythagorean theorem, for example. In “Recipes with Fractions,” students compare fractions using real recipes, classify a system of equations by graphing, graph two equations by dragging points, and then classify them in a multiple-choice question. Kids practice one skill at a time and earn points and ribbons when they get questions correct. Once they reach 100 points for a skill, they earn a medal and a square on their game board, encouraging them to master other skills to earn virtual prizes.

Is IXL Good For Learning?
The targeted activities — pretty much drill and practice in format and approach — can provide extensive opportunities for independent practice. For example, at sixth grade you get an impressive 277 types of math-skill practice activities. Unlike many sites where students do drills, though, this one gives feedback on how to get better. Overall, IXL’s limit is its drill and practice. However, it gives students the tools they need to improve in math and build confidence.

How Can Teachers Use IXL?
Class and individual reports with item analysis, usage, and trouble spots allow parents and teachers to get the specific information they need to differentiate instruction for their kids. The standard Trouble Spot report is very useful for quickly identifying where kids are having a hard time and which kids need extra help.”


In 2011, IXL Learning partnered with Empirical Education to study the effectiveness of IXL Math in Beaverton School District in Oregon. During the 2011-2012 year, IXL Math was used to supplement instruction in two elementary/middle schools. The study focused on 4th and 5th grade students in Title I schools and examined the relationship between being in an IXL Math classroom and performance on the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) math test. As a secondary focus, the study looked at perceived changes in students’ attitudes towards math since using IXL Math. Importantly, this study was a small, non-experimental evaluation, and, according to the authors of the study, the results should be considered “exploratory.”

Result highlights (published in 2013)

  • The mathematics performance for students in IXL Math classrooms versus comparison students corresponds to a 5-percentile gain on the test.
  • An increase in the average IXL session duration by just one minute increases the effectiveness of IXL Math by 6.3% over an average year, as assessed through the OAKS math test.
  • 100% of teachers surveyed said that their students’ confidence in learning math increased.
  • 77% of teachers said that their students’ level of effort increased.

alt text Khan Academy CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • SRI Education
  • Edutopia
  • Delaware Center for Teacher Education
  • Simi Valley Unified School District

EdSurge Review

“Khan Academy’s Common Core math resources have been developed in collaboration with Smarter Balanced, Illustrative Mathematics, and 40 educators to provide thousands of new, interactive math problems fully aligned to every Common Core State Standard (CCSS) for mathematics. Students can work at their own pace through grade-level “missions” and track their progress through personalized dashboards. All problems are accompanied by step-by-step solutions specific to each problem. Successful completion of missions is charted on a progress report on the student’s dashboard while “coaches”—whether teachers, tutors, or parents—can see a student’s progress with access through a class code or coach ID.”

Graphite Review

“Is Khan Academy Good For Learning?
Whether students are exploring on their own, using the site in class, or using it as a resource for homework and test prep, Khan Academy can be a very useful supplement to classroom instruction and discussion. If used as a primary source of instruction, it’s important to note that the videos tend to be more procedural than conceptual. Nevertheless, the site’s math missions aim to promote more conceptual understanding, as they challenge kids to practice and master skills on their own, using hints and videos as support rather than as the main source of instruction. And nearly every Common Core math standard is addressed at each grade level, making the website a rich resource for standards coverage.

The platform, with its vastly expanded learning content, is a helpful addition for math teachers; think of it as a new way to deliver Khan’s grade-level math lessons. Using the missions, teachers can better focus students’ instruction. Students get a nice balance between the freedom to explore and the benefit of a teacher’s guidance. Overall, students’ experience in math is more personalized — teachers can help them hone in on what’s most relevant to their learning. That said, it would be nice to see the missions expanded beyond only math, as having this type of instructional platform across the site would be a huge plus. Also, while the lessons are generally interactive, more of an experiential focus could help kids connect more intrinsically.

Some great features on the site include the ability to turn on subtitles within each video, and Spanish-language users can also enable a site-wide translation option. Students can also use the companion iPad app that allows downloads for offline viewing. The Coach and Classroom Resources section offers helpful tutorials on how teachers, parents, and tutors can best use the site.

How Can Teachers Use Khan Academy?
For classroom teachers, Khan Academy is probably best used to teach, practice, and review Common Core-focused math skills. The site’s other videos can also serve as great supplemental resources in a variety of subjects. The missions are organized by grade level, and an interactive
knowledge map has direct links to standards-focused exercises; it’s easy to target students’ instruction for a particular grade level and skill. If you’re new to the site, a great place to start is the Coach and Classroom Resources section under the Learn menu. Here, you’ll find great information about how to blend the missions into your classroom instruction.

Once you’ve got your classroom and student accounts set up, simply find the content that’s relevant to an upcoming unit. From there, assign your students recommended skills so they can review and practice the material. Using the site’s powerful analytical and adaptive program, you can track students’ progress and identify those who may be struggling in certain areas. Use the reports to view the skills your students need to practice more; you could even find and recommend a peer tutor for someone. Challenge your students to complete lessons within a given time frame, or even to complete their grade-level mission by the end of the school year.”


In the fall of 2011, Khan Academy began a two-year formal pilot program in a number of California school districts, charter schools, and independent schools serving diverse student populations. At the same time, the foundation contracted SRI Education’s Center for Technology in Learning to study the implementation of Khan Academy resources and tools in those schools during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years. The study involved the participation of 20 public, charter, and independent schools; more than 70 teachers; and approximately 2000 students in each study year.

The primary goal of SRI’s research was to learn how Khan Academy, and by implication other similar digital learning tools and resources, could be used to support personalized math learning (i.e., learning that tailors what is taught, when it is taught, and how it is taught to the needs of students working individually and with others).

On March 10, 2014, SRI released its study, with the following highlights:

A positive association was found between more Khan Academy use and more problem sets completed and two outcomes: (1) improvements in student test scores, and (2) improvements in three of the four self- reported non-achievement outcomes – math anxiety, math self-concept, and academic efficacy (i.e., belief in one’s ability to succeed in academic endeavors).

Evidence from exploratory analyses of data available from two sites suggested that students who spent more time on Khan Academy and successfully completed more Khan Academy problem sets to proficiency experienced more positive than expected outcomes in terms of math test scores, reduced math anxiety, and had higher surveyed reported that students liked the time they spent working on Khan Academy and, across all grade levels, that students were moderately (62%) or highly (25%) engaged when using Khan Academy.

Students perceived that use of Khan Academy encouraged greater independence in learning.

Immediate feedback, hints, and access to videos meant that if students were struggling with a particular problem, they were not stuck for long and could experience success even when the content became challenging: 45% of student respondents said that with Khan Academy they were able to learn new things about math on their own without the help of a teacher.

alt text Learn Alberta: (“Spy Guys” modules) CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • Tennessee Department of Education (TNCore)

The Learn Alberta website was designed and developed to assist kindergarten to Grade 12 teachers in Alberta, Canada, to locate and utilize digital learning and teaching resources produced by the Ministry of Education. The site is supported and administered by the Curriculum Design Supports and Production Branch (CDSP) of Alberta Education.

From the Learn Alberta site:

“We provide leadership in advancing the use of technology for learning by creating, designing, developing or acquiring high quality digital learning and teaching resources. These resources are delivered through user responsive solutions built and supported by CDSP.”

alt text Learner.org: (Annenberg Learner) CCSS Alignment (for standard 6.EE.B.5) Vetted by:

  • Durham Public Schools
  • Howard County Public School System

Annenberg Learner materials were produced in partnership with the Corporation of Public Broadcasting are used in K-12 schools and also in non-commercial community agencies, as well as colleges and universities.

Review from the National Education Association:

“Annenberg Learner’s Interactives provides activities that improve skills in math, science, language, history, and arts. Though a few resources are aimed at elementary students, most are intended for secondary. A Teachers’ Lab lets teachers explore new ideas in the science of light, geometry, patterns, and the seasons.”

alt text LEARNZILLION CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • The California, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas and New York State Departments of Education
    LearnZillion is a learning platform that combines video lessons, assessments, and progress reporting. Each lesson highlights a Common Core standard, starting with math in grades 3-9.

LearnZillion was started by the principal of the E.L.Hayes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., as a homework website. Teachers captured their lessons on videos, and then posted them with a short quiz to help track student progress. Since its inception, the company has hired hundreds of “Dream Team” teachers, selected from throughout the country, to create over 2,000 video lessons directly aligned to the Common Core State standards.

Graphite Review

“What’s LearnZillion Like?
LearnZillion is an online database of short video lessons that address learning topics aligned to individual Common Core standards. Experienced teachers create the 3- to 5-minute lessons that also feature commentary, extra hints, tricks, and a “try it yourself” video for kids that helps them practice on their own with pencil and paper while following the video’s guidance.

Multiple-choice quizzes test students’ learning. When both kids and teachers create accounts, teachers can assign lessons to individual students or to the whole class, see who has completed a lesson, and view quiz scores.

Is LearnZillion Good For Learning?
This site is a mix of teacher’s assistant and mentor. Not sure how to explain a new or difficult concept? You can get helpful guidance from another teacher who’s found a successful method. Teachers who are spread thin or who have students with problems can use LearnZillion to give those kids extra attention in the areas that are just right for them. Note: LearnZillion is not, in any way, a game. That’s also why it’s more a teacher’s tool than a super-exciting activity for kids.

But what it lacks in fun factor, it gains in clear, instructive content.

Don’t think of LearnZillion as a teacher replacement; there’s no replacement for hands-on, face-to-face interaction. It’s more like teacher enhancement. Live teachers are essential for choosing assignments wisely, tracking progress, and filling in the gaps when kids struggle. Also, the multiple-choice quizzes aren’t the greatest and don’t align perfectly with the content of each individual lesson, so teachers will want to do their own learning assessments offline.

How Can Teachers Use LearnZillion?
It can provide an extra learning boost, give inspiration for how to teach a particular concept or explain it to kids in a different way, help students review topics covered in class while leaving the teacher to address other things, or be a springboard for new exploration. Kids can watch the lessons as a whole class, in small groups, or individually.

For example, hold a “math lab” where kids work on slightly different sets of problems that are specifically tailored to their needs. You can move around the classroom checking in with each kid and providing guidance and assistance where needed. Videos can be homework or classwork. Assign extra practice to kids who are having trouble grasping that new math concept or as homework to practice a new writing technique.”

In the spring of 2014, Delta State University published a research study commissioned by LearnZillion on the effectiveness of coaches on teachers who create LearnZillion’s Common Core-aligned content after participating in a three-month professional learning committee project. The goal of the study was to investigate 163 ELA and Mathematics teachers’ perceptions of the positive and negative attributes of the coaches that had mentored them during a three-month program, so that the company could understand the impact of high-quality coaching on the creation of common-core aligned instructional materials.

alt text Manga HighCCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • Pajaro Valley Unified School District, CA

Graphite Review

“Is Manga High Good For Learning?
Stylized manga characters create an all-ages look that should speak to kids and teens alike, and site content is intuitively organized. Another strength is that teachers can customize difficulty levels and which challenges kids are assigned. Stronger ties to real-world situations (rolling dice, counting money, measuring ingredients) could help kids build conceptual knowledge from activities they already know. On the whole, games and tutorials are a little dry, repetitive, and text-heavy, but they could offer a solid way to introduce new concepts before lessons begin.

How Can Teachers Use Manga High?
As a teacher or administrator, you can create a free school account and add student members. Then, use the school dashboard to create different classes, add kids, choose specific games each class can access, and monitor kids’ activity. Under Challenges, teachers can search the games and Prodigi quizzes that target specific Common Core standards and assign them to students as challenges.

Older kids are better off in the Prodigi section, where activities on numbers, algebra, shapes, and data are text-heavier and involve some multiple-choice critical thinking. Keep these tutorials and exercises in mind as a great resource for ACT or SAT prep, as refreshers after summer break, or for teens moving into more advanced math classes. Another nifty feature: a search tool that lets you assign Prodigi tutorials based on grade level or Common Core standard.”

alt text Mathalicious CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • The Granite School District, Utah
  • North Dakota Department of Education

Mathalicious creates video and text-based middle and high school math lessons around real world topics. All lessons include a student handout, a lesson guide, and a multimedia presentation.

Graphite Review

In an effort to improve middle school kids’ attitudes about the subject, Mathalicous teaches math via trendy, open-ended, real-world scenarios. Companion materials like student worksheets, a teaching guide, and a multimedia slideshow guide each lesson. People with significant math and education chops design the lessons and support teachers with goodies like flexible scripting, lots of visuals, support for potential challenges, and follow-up questions. Every lesson is tied to multiple Common Core standards, with specifics provided right up front. On the site, lessons are searchable by standard, theme, or keyword. Within the context of high-interest topics, Mathalicous can entice even hardened math haters into having fun with numbers. Problems whet appetites with thoughtful questions about ordinary things — subtle templates for kids to seek out and question mathematics themselves. There’s an obvious effort to be “cool,” but lessons are comprehensive and take math seriously.

Mathalicious is a supplemental resource great for introduction to math topics. Look for ways to make it accessible rather than restricted (e.g., used only as a reward or extra credit). Teacher involvement is necessary, so it’s great for in-class work among partners, groups, or individuals rather than as homework. Straightforward lessons guide teachers step by step, but they’re not “plug and play.” Give lesson guides a thorough review, with attention to scripting, time requirements, and materials. Adjust the lesson for the teaching setting and ensure there’s a working Internet connection for slideshows, as they can’t be downloaded. Choose activities to address Common Core standards; at least two are covered by each lesson. Involve kids in picking what problem to explore next. Challenge students to extrapolate one problem to develop another that must be solved the same way. Have kids generate original questions about mathematics and look for ways to tie in scientific investigation.

alt text Math Antics CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • Saranac Central School District, New York

Math Antics specializes in engaging, easy-to-understand math lessons that walk students through a concept step-by-step. Most of the videos are longer than the average educational video running time (the average running time is typically three-to-five minutes; Math Antics videos typically run seven-to-ten minutes). Math Antics video lessons can be used for students who need extra review of topics and skills learned in the classroom.

alt text Mathematics CCSS Toolbox CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • The California Mathematics Council
  • The Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators
  • The Connecticut Department of Education
  • The Kentucky Department of Education
    The Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin and Agile Mind created the Mathematics CCSS Toolbox, prototype lessons and interactive questions which simulate online assessment questions.

The site is broken down into three sections: 1) Standards for Mathematical Practice; 2) Standards for Mathematical Content; 3) Resources for Implementation. Interactive tasks were created with an extensive development process, including multiple levels of review and refinement based on feedback from experts in mathematics, classroom teachers, and assessment, as well as review by state representatives. The tasks were then field-tested in two large urban districts and further modified based on the data that emerged from the field-testing experience.

alt text MathIsFun.com CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • Atlanta Public Schools, GA
  • Walpole School District, MA

MathIsFun provides supplementary content for K-12 in topics ranging from working with numbers and basic operations to money, algebra (with an introduction to trigonometry), geometry (including some interactives for constructions and using a protractor), data, measurement, worksheets, games, puzzles, and an illustrated math dictionary. Tutorial information is provided within content.

Education World Review

  • Content: Users can find help for nearly every math discipline and grade level.
  • Design: Given that for many students, math is a complicated subject, the simplicity of this site offers relief. One main map-like graphic dominates the screen and contains clickable images that serve as the primary navigation.

Once they arrive at their desired mathematical destination, users get logically ordered lists of tips, tutorials and worksheets. Everything is easy to follow and laid out in a clean and concise manner.

Review: MathIsFun provides a great supplement to traditional lessons. Newcomers may be surprised to find so much content on this relatively small site.

The teachers’ area offers classroom suggestions and tips for helping struggling students. The games area, with interactive brainteasers and mathematical memory games, can be a terrific way to get math-shy students into the right frame of mind.

Bottom Line: Covering everything from addition and monetary values to algebra and geometry, MathIsFun nicely complements classroom math lessons.”

alt text Math Playground CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • The NJ Educator Exchange
  • The Martinez Unified School District, CA

Graphite Review

Math Playground is an extensive collection of math games that address a wide variety of math topics such as arithmetic, geometry, percentages, word problems, algebra, graphing, and even logic. Beyond the games and some opportunities for drill-like practice, the site also has worksheets, both online and printable. Another unique section of the site highlights math as a prerequisite for a variety of careers (e.g., graphic designer). A Common Core section for teachers lists the many games that align to a wide variety of standards.

Many of the games on Math Playground are not only fun (and sometimes downright addictive), they also have learning content built right in. For example, there are Math-focused versions of Pac-Man and Tetris that help kids explore addition and numbers. Other games require brain-bending logic, like the gravity-based “Sugar, sugar.” Worksheets, drills, and instructional videos explain a variety of math concepts to help round out the site’s clearly educational approach. Most of the content is solid, although some games are better than others. Since there are a lot of activities, finding the best ones can take a bit of poking around.

Most of the games here would work best with individual exploration in the classroom. Teachers might also use the worksheet generator to print practice sheets or assign online drills. On a more interesting note, the site has an entire section of multi-player games (they can be played on multiple computers). Teachers can create private competition sessions where students can compete with one another.

alt text Matific CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • Graphite

Mathific engages students in learning math through fun activities. Each activity is designed to teach a specific mathematical insight or impart a specific mathematical skill and are mapped to the Common Core Standards.

Graphite Review

Matific is a collection of interactive math games and activities for grades K-6 aimed at helping kids build a conceptual understanding of various foundational skills. The wide variety of activities and worksheets are well organized and easy to navigate. Kids can access the resources by grade level or, more specifically, by topic within each grade. Some grade levels have more resources — and cover more skills — than others. However, the developers are reportedly adding activities on an ongoing basis.

Within each activity, kids can try a few times to find a correct answer before the program generates one for them. A teacher dashboard is easy to set up and provides progress reports, which show potential areas of improvement for each student.


Matific’s engaging resources are well organized by grade and by content, and should be easy for teachers to integrate into the lessons they’re already teaching. Activities cover numerous K-6 Common Core domain skills. From counting and cardinality, operations and algebraic thinking, and geometry to fractions and statistics and probability, among others, there’s a lot covered here.

All grades include interactive activities and — for some grades — a mixed bag of digital worksheets.


Matific’s feedback to students is subtle, encouraging a kind of trial-and-error method to find a working solution. As such, some teachers might want to use it as a supplement only after covering the concepts in class. Alternately, some of the games and activities could be used as a preview for certain concepts — kids can try out different strategies and solutions, then bring their ideas back to the class before a more formal lesson on a topic.

Tasks increase in difficulty and complexity. Of note for teachers, several puzzlers and have more than one solution, which offers kids different ways to think about the concepts covered. For example, in one 3-D tiling game, kids have to drag small sets of cubes to fill a larger cube. There are many ways to arrange the small cubes, but the final number needed to fill the large cube will always be the same.

You can assign students an activity or worksheet that aligns to a lesson, and have them work individually. If possible, project the assignment on the board and review the answers — and different strategies kids tried — together. Online, you can keep track of students’ progress and identify any areas for improvement. However, you’ll need to keep up with your kids and assign additional work on your own, as the program won’t automatically assign or adapt to students’ individual skill levels.

alt text NASA Space Math CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • The Loyola University Center for Science and Math Education

NASA Space Math lets students explore how mathematics skills are applied in space exploration. The problems are authentic glimpses of modern engineering issues that arise in designing satellites to work in space. The content was created in conjunction with leading science institutions: Adler Planetarium (Moon research using data from the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Mission); Depaul University (Research on the earth’s atmosphere, using data from the High Altitude Balloon Platform); University of Chicago (Research on interstellar medium (gas and dust) using data from the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE), Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) missions; Northwestern University: Investigation of the relationship between melting ice and sea level using data provided by the Jason-1, Grace, Terra, and Quicksat satellites); Loyola University (Research on planetary formation using data obtained from the Kepler Mission).

alt text NextLesson CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • The Huename Elementary School District, California

EdSurge Review:
NextLesson provides teachers with projects, lessons, and interactive curriculum designed to make learning more fun and engaging. With a focus on 21st Century skills and Common Core-aligned materials, NextLesson offers educators curriculum content that focuses on real world problems and applications to enhance the classroom experience.
NextLesson offers three core products for grades K-12 in Math, ELA, Social Studies, and Science. Teachers can direct students to the NextLesson website inside or outside the classroom to use “Rank & Reason” and “Performance Tasks” products. These two tools test student’s knowledge of concepts and offer real world applications of subject matter. The “Projects” tool provides teachers with instructional videos and lesson plans to use for more hands-on learning experiences in the classroom.

alt text PBS Learning Media (“Math Shorts””Flocabulary”) CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • The Oregon Education Association

Graphite Review

“What’s PBS Learning Media Like?
PBS Learning Media contains tens of thousands of digital resources aligned to Common Core standards and ready for classroom use. Topics cover English language arts, math, professional development, science and health, and social studies with resources for grades Pre-K through college. The self-paced lessons are interactive, engage students, and include a variety of digital media. In most cases, students learn content by reading and writing. Resource content contributors include the National Archives, the Jim Henson Company, Annenberg Media, and the Library of Congress.

Is PBS Learning Media Good For Learning?
Generally, the videos embedded throughout the site are well done and concise, and feature master educators. Videos showcasing teacher-modeled best practices are truly excellent. Navigation is easy after an initial self- orientation, yet it still requires you to go through several steps before you can access content.

The self-paced computer resources are cool and relevant and can really hook kids. Students can work independently on a computer (or collaboratively with a peer) at a self-directed pace, allowing the teacher to visit students individually and provide timely feedback. The resources range from short video and audio clips to interactives, lesson plans, and much more.

Teachers can search by grade level, subject, and standard. You can also browse more than 100 resource collections such as Middle School Literacy Initiative, High School Math, Cyber-learning on STEM, Art and Science of Growing Food, and Culture and Identity.

How Can Teachers Use PBS Learning Media?
PBS Learning Media provides Common Core and state standards alignment, student access, class accounts, a robust user management system, comprehensive analytics, and a content management system. There’s so much content on the site that accessing all materials for a certain topic may seem a bit cumbersome, but it’s well worth the navigation.

The professional development component is of particular note.

A new Middle School Literacy piece is an excellent resource for all teachers of tweens. Other PD materials are available in a variety of areas, including how to support English-language learners, implementing literature circles, contemporary issues in the classroom, and phonemic assessment. Educators can access strategies, tools, and learning.”

Regarding “Math Shorts” videos, The Utah Education Network (UEN) developed “Math Shorts” as part of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) “Math at Core” project,.

This video series introduces key Common Core concepts in 4th- to 8th- grade mathematics. Each video focuses on building conceptual understanding of a topic, so that students understand the “how” and “why” behind mathematical problem solving.

UEN recommends using these videos with your students as topical introductions to topics including integers, the concept of ratios, unit rates, percent, and division with fractions.

alt text Scholastic Study Jams! CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • North Carolina State Board of Eduction
  • DePaul University

StudyJams! helps students understand the underlying concepts of math and science through real world examples presented in a multimedia format. It includes videos, music and songs, step-by-step math instruction, slideshows, and quizzes on every topic reinforce.

Graphite Review

Parents need to know that StudyJams! is a free Scholastic site that provides engaging multimedia lessons on math and science, ranging from basic algebra problems to more complex concepts like scientific theory and evidence. The site is ad-free and doesn’t collect any information from users. (There’s nothing inappropriate for kids student 8, but the lessons may be too challenging for the average student.)

By offering lessons in different forms — videos, quizzes, and even karaoke! — StudyJams! accommodates students with various learning styles and reinforces information. The math lessons are particularly helpful, guiding kids through each step of a problem with a detailed voiceover and virtual blackboard. (Parents who can’t remember how to convert decimals to fractions will get an excellent refresher course.)

Students who need homework help will find fun activities and useful tutorials on Scholastic’s site StudyJams! Four animated characters walk kids through dozens of science and math lessons (or \”Jams\”) that include multimedia content such as slideshows, quizzes, and even karaoke. Students can earn points by reading content and doing activities; once they’ve earned enough points, they can head over to the Jam Studio to mix and record MP3 tracks using samples of rock, hip-hop, dance, and more. The site also includes an encyclopedia and a guide to state history.

alt text School Yourself CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • The New York City Department of Education

School Yourself lessons are short 45 second videos followed by a question, text, a scratch pad to manipulate interactive modules, and a hint system that walks students through problems step-by-step.

School Yourself also created an interactive game used in EdGems, “Beat the Odds”, a web-based game in which students are challenged to develop and use probability models that won the WGBH Innovative Math Challenge Award. In Training Mode, students are presented with coins, dice, or cards, and are asked to compute the probability of a specific scenario. In Competition Mode, students are again presented with specific scenarios, and are asked to predict how many times (out of 100 trials) a specific result will occur. With these two gameplay modes, “Beat the Odds” was specifically designed to align with the 7th grade common core standards in statistics and probability.

alt text Virtual Nerd (Pearson)CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • The Washington Learning Source (collaborative of nine districts in Washington State)

Graphite Review:

What’s Virtual Nerd Like?
Virtual Nerd is a website featuring tutorials to supplement learning in middle and high school math and physics classes. Hundreds of tutorials are available for sixth- through eighth-grade math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, and Introductory Physics. Each tutorial provides a video of a teacher lecturing on a topic and writing on a whiteboard. At the same time, a diagram and step-by-step notes appear to the right.

Is Virtual Nerd Good For Learning?
Tutorials are separated by each subject and organized by topic or according to several popular textbooks, which could work well if kids are already familiar with a particular textbook series. Good news: Concepts are aligned to a broad range of Common Core Math Standards. Physics concepts are appropriate for kids in a standard high school physics class or for those reviewing basic physics concepts in preparation for AP or IB Physics. Virtual Nerd’s “Dynamic Whiteboard” platform is distinctive because it allows kids to view instruction in three ways simultaneously.

A few nits to pick: It would be nice if Virtual Nerd had a larger pool of questions; sometimes they repeat. Adding more resources for kids to apply and extend their learning would also strengthen the site’s reach.

How Can Teachers Use Virtual Nerd?
Teachers looking to build a “flipped classroom” (using technology to allow kids to learn at home, then come to class for interactive work) will love that clear tutorials are already created. Students can watch the straightforward instruction and take notes at home, saving class time to focus on applying the concepts and working on cooperative projects. You can input students into the Virtual Nerd account roster and provide them an access code to log in. They can then build playlists with tutorials, multiple-choice practice problems, and assessments. To build an assessment, you can choose from an unfortunately limited group of questions for each topic, some of which are the same as the practice problems.

alt text Yummy Math CCSS alignment vetted by:

  • The Iowa Department of Education

Yummy Math was created by Brian Marks, an instructional math coach in Newton, Massachusetts, and Leslie Lewis, a math teacher. Text-based tasks provide math teachers with exercises based on real-life situations.

All exercises correspond with the NCTM Process Standards and the CCSS Standards for Mathematical Practice.

Yummy Math’s website has been updated with multiple activities per week since March 2010.

alt text 21st Century Lessons CCSS Alignment Vetted by:

  • Boston Public Schools (BPS approved 21st Century Lessons as part of the city’s middle school curriculum.)

American Federation of Teachers Review

“21st Century Lessons is an initiative of the Boston Teachers Union that brings teams of teachers together to create full units of lessons according to the following criteria:

Aligned to the Common Core State Standards;

Come as units of lessons so that teachers do not spend as much time looking for great lessons as they would making their own;

Created by expert teachers who are in still in the classroom;

Easy to use (our lessons require about a half hour of prep time).

Modifiable to allow for teachers discretion (which is why we use PowerPoint).

  • Embedded with best practices.
  • Engaging for students and teachers.
  • Complete with assessments, home-works and handouts.
  • Shown to increase student achievement.

According to its website, the resources provided by the creators of 21st Century Lessons “have demonstrated 25% more growth in student achievement compared to the control.” EdGems has not found any published research that supports this claim.