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Math Movies

Module by: Ruth Adkins. E-mail the author

Summary: Looking to spice up your math lesson? Try adding a math movie to your lecture or assigning students to create their own movie to share with the class. Many resources exist for teachers who want to use movies in the classroom: this module seeks to explore the benefits of several different sites.


Responding to the call

We live in an age where people have immediate access to all kinds of information online. As 21st century educators, we must respond to this by challenging the traditional methods used in the classroom, adding new technology to enrich and benefit students. No longer are students limited to reviewing what we say and do in class – they can experience problem solving, new methods, and abstract concepts through internet access in the classroom and at home. Appealing to higher order thinking and interactivity in technology-integrated lessons will dramatically improve student learning (Metri Group, 2009).

Movies are just one interactive technology that can be used in the classroom to address the needs of today’s diverse learners, emphasizing higher order thinking. Whether students learn to express ideas by creating their own movies or to access movies created by their teachers for additional instruction and support at home, movies can make a significant difference in education. Math movies are especially helpful for visually illustrating abstract concepts and ideas so that students can more easily recall information in the future.

How to Get Started With…

Many different websites exist to help teachers access and utilize movies in math classrooms. Below is a sampling of some worthwhile sites that can help you incorporate videos into your lesson plans and student assignments. The first two sites offer videos on a wide range of topics, which can be used in numerous ways in the classroom; the last site explores how students can create their own movies.


While you do have to set up an account to access , the resources and videos are free of charge for students and teachers. To begin, click on video tutorials.

Figure 1
Figure 1 (graphics1.png)

Now, instead of aimlessly searching through the many folder icons that appear on the screen, you can refine your search by scrolling to the bottom of the page and selecting the grade level or subject for which you would like a video tutorial. For example, you could choose to look up tutorials which have been tagged for 9th grade math.

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Figure 2 (graphics2.png)

You are given an organized list of topics and tutorials for that grade level. Find the topic of interest, such as combining like terms, and click on the link. The video tutorial will play as a teacher talks students through solving the problem.

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Figure 3 (graphics3.png)

If you like the video, you can add it to a list of your favorites for future use in the classroom. Another great feature of this site is the ability to create parent-student accounts; by doing this, parents and students can watch video tutorials at home to review and study. Besides accessing other teachers’ videos and resources, you can also host your own videos through this site. From Tulyn’s mission statement we learn:

“The moment a visitor becomes a free member, we put 10 hours of video tutorial view credits into his or her account. Then, we reward every sign-in, word problem submission, word problem solution submission and membership referrals to let them maintain a positive account balance. We know this approach works because over the last two years, we have helped thousands of students to improve their math skills without charging them a penny.”

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Figure 4 (graphics4.png)
By clicking on “My Account,” teachers are taken to this page where they can manage playlists, write blogs about certain tutorials, participate in discussions, and set up their student accounts.

Learning Math

On this website designed for teachers by Annenberg Media and partnered with Virginia Tech, you can choose from five online courses, which all have corresponding video lessons. Initially designed as a continuing education resource for teachers, the resources offered by this site are also beneficial for classroom use.

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Figure 5 (graphics5.png)

For example, if you were planning a lesson on unit conversion in the Metric system and were interested in videos related to measurement, you could select the Measurement course. Then click ‘watch the videos online’ for the course and select the movie you would like to view, which happens to be Session 3.

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Figure 6 (graphics6.png)

One nice point about this site is that you can watch the movies in segments or all at once, depending on you or your students’ needs. The on demand videos pop up in a new window for viewing. Teachers can pause the movies during a lecture to ask students questions before continuing with the rest of the clip.

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Figure 7 (graphics7.png)

This site is especially useful when resources are limited – for example, if you do not have access to scales, containers, or objects to measure or weigh, Part B of the video on the Metric system which discusses measuring the mass of water would benefit your students, who could then experience how to perform the measurement.

Student Movies

To explore the rationale behind students creating movies and to get step-by-step tutorials for students try this site. This site provides links to resources for using two of the leading movie creating software packages – iMovie and Windows Moviemaker. Giving students the opportunity to create their own movies for use in the classroom appeals to students, who thrive with interactivity and creativity in the classroom.

Classroom Examples

Are you curious about how to implement math movies into the classroom? Explore these real-world examples of students using movies to learn a wide variety of mathematical relationships.

Student iMovies

Mr. Almeida’s student math movies available online are an example of students creating their own iMovies to illustrate concepts covered in their courses. Since the students work collaboratively in small groups, this is a great way for them to interactively synthesize the material and learn to explain topics to their peers. In this way, students learn from one another while teaching themselves.

Vocabulary Photobook

Using iPhoto to create a vocabulary photobook, students in the class learn to explain their understanding of geometric principles. Instead of just quizzing the students on the selected vocabulary, teachers require students to actually demonstrate their understanding in a real-world setting. This lesson plan was created by Kurt Johnson of the Apple Learning Interchange.

Learn Alberta

Created by the government of Alberta, Canada, this website offers hundreds of interactive lessons, worksheets, and videos which illustrate real-world applications of math. Take for example this lesson on square roots which discusses them as they relate to the design of skate parks through video and a related interactive activity sheet.

Hunt for 3D Shapes

Although targeted at students in late elementary school, the principles of this unit plan could be extended for use in middle and early high school. Students investigate the differences between various figures by using online collaboration and videos. Not only does this unit use videos, but it also includes many other technologies such as the document camera and internet activities. This plan was created by Loretta Peer of WVPT, one of Virginia’s public television stations.

Assessing … for the Classroom


Anything that breaks up the monotony of math lecture is a good thing. By offering students the chance to relate videos to the concepts covered in class as in the Vocabulary Photobook lesson, learning will be enhanced and enriched. Not every learner will benefit from the same style of learning, so appealing to multiple types of learners in the classroom is essential. Math videos help accomplish this goal through their interactivity and use of creativity. A clear example of creatively appealing to diverse learners is the Learn Alberta lesson on square roots, which ties the discussion to items found in a skatepark.


Some schools lack the resources to bring these new technologies into every classroom and into the hands of every student. Consider all the necessary resources in the Hunt for 3D Shapes unit listed above, not every school has all of these capabilities. However, if math teachers are passionate about using videos in their lessons, then they can arrange for time in a school computer lab or even apply for grants to finance the initial start-up costs of these technologies. Some people may find the use of videos in a classroom distracting, but if teachers thoroughly screen and weigh the instructional value of the movies they choose to show in the classroom, this will not be an issue.

Considerations for Teachers

  • One way to meet the needs of today’s diverse learners is to appeal to interactive and creative modes of learning – math movies help this happen.
  • Students and parents can access many videos and tutorials at home to enrich and to clarify their understanding of concepts covered in class.
  • Allowing students to create their own movies will help them synthesize material and reach a deeper level of understanding.
  • Not all movies will be great additions to your lessons. Carefully consider the value of each movie to ensure it does not distract students from learning the material.

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