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BHS math website targets educators, students for more enjoyable learning

Staff Writer

BARSTOW • A flashy logo, a simple summary and a digital caricature of Barstow High School math teacher Peter Esperanza invite you to explore his website further. However, it’s the PowerPoint slides and PDF worksheets which he said keep students and fellow educators coming back.

Uninspired with the text-heavy material he noticed regularly online, Esperanza launched on Aug. 15 of this year in order to share his own work, intended to be “less boring and more concise.”

The site was created to help “math teachers provide fun and dynamic presentations coupled with related worksheets for a more entertaining and effective math lecture,” according to its homepage summary.

Teachers and students can currently download PowerPoint slides (for either PC or Mac) and complimentary PDF worksheets in three of the five subjects he teaches: Algebra I, Pre-Calculus and AP Statistics.

The presentations are broken out for daily lessons. In order to make them less complicated, he said they’re highly detailed and he eliminates the plethora of theorems and formulas found in textbooks, instead opting to use applicatory examples that students can more easily understand.

“I design it specifically how I teach in my class,” he said. “If it’s not going to work for me, it’s not going to work for my students.”

Esperanza said, though, he really hopes to alleviate the workload for fellow teachers. It takes him roughly an hour every day to prep materials for each class he teaches.

“The ultimate goal right now — it’s pretty simple — is to help teachers not prep anymore,” he said. “My goal is to help them get rid of the hours spent prepping and enjoy their time at home.”

According to Esperanza, some math teachers at BHS are already using his worksheets and students find the material valuable in situations when they fall behind.

Shekinah Toloumu, 17, found it easy to catch-up autonomously.

“Actually, I used it once when I was absent for a couple of days,” she said. “It’s the same presentation Mr. E gives.”

Esperanza also said students give feedback that they like the PowerPoint animations, not just aesthetically, but because it gives them control of the step-by-step process in solving a problem.

The idea to create the site came to Esperanza over the summer when he was vacationing in the Philippines with buddies. One friend, an IT consultant, helped implement the layout and a former student of Esperanza’s actually digitized sketches Esperanza drew for the site’s artwork.

While his pal’s suggested using Esperanza’s name for the domain, he felt more inclined to go for something catchier. “NumberBender” was spawned after watching “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

Esperanza said he plans to improve the site, adding materials of the other two math subjects he teaches — Algebra I and AP Calculus — and videos of him teaching later next year.

Right now, the website is receiving 150 hits per day he estimated — some even from Europe.

“It’s a great way of putting all my efforts in prepping online,” he said. “I’m just amazed how everyday people are clicking and downloading.”

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