Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Want to Help your Child Learn Math (or ?)? There's an App for that!

Tim Pelton, February 26, 2014

iPads (tablets) are really useful tools.  In the near future, it is not unreasonable to expect that every child will have ready access to these devices to support learning.  These tablets are content conveyors, exploration instruments, consolidation tutors, observation recorders, creation studios, presentation tools and more.

Content: e.g., Webpages, PDF content, eBooks, iBooks, Kindle, Genius Scan, etc.
Demo: iBooks – Measuring Length : Centimetres

Exploration: e.g., Wolfram-Alpha, Wikipedia, Safari, myscript calculator, Viszulator, etc.
Demo: Population of BC?  Weight of a Quarter?

Consolidate/Play: e.g., Mathtappers ( apps, Pick-a-Path, TanZen, NineGaps, MathSnacks, Slice-it, Geoboard, Numbler, etc.
Try: Numberline, Clockmaster, Slice-it, NineGaps,

Observe: Camera (still, video, document), SparkVue (Pasco sensors), UPad, etc.
Demo: Genius Scan – work sample

Create: Explain Everything, iMovie, Vine, Comic Life, Phoster, Fotor, etc.
Demo: Explain Everything, Comic Life

Present: Playtube, iAnnotate, Stage, etc.
Demo: Playtube

Some of tips that might help you find useful apps include:

  • Check to see that the app is easy to understand and use as a teacher (low threshold).  Do they have some mechanism to review the student’s activity and progress?
  • Check to see that the app is easy for students to use (low friction) and that it is appealing but avoids overusing distracting frills.
  • Look for apps designed to help to students make sense of mathematical concepts (e.g., using dynamic visual models) and avoid the flashcard apps that focus only on rote memorization.  Some procedural apps are ok, but be sure that your students have mastered the concepts first. 
  • Look for apps that allow you to adjust the settings to meet individual needs.
  • Look for apps that focus on mastery before fluency and avoid apps that focus too much on speed.
  • Look for apps that can be used in multiple ways – to support discussion, exploration, strategy sharing, consolidation, fluency building, assessment, etc.
  • Look for apps that allow you to review student progress and upload that information to your computer to support assessment.
  • Look for apps that have supporting materials (in app or on a website) to guide classroom and individual use.
  • Look for apps that support learning in many ways.  Not just consolidation – engage students in communicating, representing, creating, exploring, presenting, etc.
  • Create a page on your school or class website/blog to share apps that you recommend
  • Search for authentic review pages that recommend apps – e.g., (but watch out for splogs)
  • Download Appshopper and Appsgonefree to support your search for apps.

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