Top Math Apps for the Ipad

My technology resource facilitator just got back from India's Ipad summit. He brought back a lot of good ideas, but one he found most interesting was the workshop from Mary Miller who has previewed over 100 Ipad apps for teaching mathematics. Here are her favorites:

Best Free Apps

Educreations Interactive Whiteboard-I've used this tool and I find it's a little more elementary school friendly. Students can draw and write mathematical content and record demonstrations. Very similar to Doceri or Explain Everything, it has a user interface with big buttons that (in my opinion) is more conducive to smaller fingers and younger users. You can insert images from dropbox or the web and can easily erase or undo recordings. Created content can be uploaded to the web for community learning and review.

 Slate Math-This app was a new one for me and seems to be catering to a kindergarten and first grade audience. When you open it up, it asks you to select what type of activity that you'd like to do. For example, some of the choices are counting, advanced counting, writing digits, addition, patterns. Students can work at their own pace and review as needed.
I think what's most interesting are the graphics which make students feel like they're doing something else, but underlying their interactions, they are in fact, practicing mathematical concepts. Subtle trickery or genius design?

Screenchomp- This app is an interactive whiteboard but I think that it has better sharing features for teachers that prefer to use this as a tool for creating videos to teach their students. As a flipped learning model, this has great applications as after a recording, teachers and students can email, tweet or facebook content to a learning community. My school uses "moodle" so I can make such videos available there for my students to see prior to a lesson in class or as a review activity. Making videos is quite fun, but something I've learned recently is to ask questions of the audience. It helps them reflect and activate prior knowledge.

Comparison Apps

Jungle Time-This is an interesting app to help young children learn how to tell time. With a 2.99$ price tag, it won't break the bank and has a nice user interface that is very friendly to young learners. There are some nice features that allow for learning, practice or exploring telling time. It also has a progress log that scaffolds up into more complex time telling from the foundation of telling time by the hour to "half past" "quarter past" and then time to the actual minute. It's great and so easy to use and teachers and parents can easily work through problems with children, and make learning goals as they do. 

Jungle Coins-With similar avatars to Jungle time, jungle coins also turns the understanding of numbers into tasks involving coins as manipulatives. (As a little aside here, kids must find the concept of coins confusing. Why is a smaller dime worth more than a larger nickel?) Anyways, it too has a 2.99$ price tag but I like that it gives students an entry point to understanding currency and the value of money by recognizing different coins. I wonder how young we could teach students to value the virtue of saving and investing. Could this be done with elementary aged children?

Geoboard-Geoboard is a subtle way of teaching geometry to students. Currently, it's free to scoop it up. It augments the traditional "rubber band geoboards" that teachers have used since Confucius (or the age of rubber bands) to demonstrate concepts like perimeter and area. What's good about it, is the relative ease of use and being able to recognize vertices and also use different colors to represent sides and how one side is the same length as the other as shown by color. There is a fill feature as well so students can fill shapes and compare area.

Manipulative Apps
Number Pieces Basic-This takes manipulatives like base ten blocks and pattern grids, rows and squares and gives students the opportunity to move them around and also draw and add up amounts on an interactive white board. This app too is free, so check it out and try in on your resident guinea pig. I think this is good for elementary students, especially in the early ages such as grade 1-3 but as students learn more complex math, they might outgrow it's applications. It's not a content creation tool (don't expect to record) but it can be a good supplement and extension activity during stations, or following lessons.  

Number Rack-This picture says it all. Are we not all intrigued when we find an old abacus? I learned how and why an abacus is designed years ago, and I must say, it is fascinating. (All chemists feel the same way when they learn about how the periodic table of the elements is organized with respect to reactivity, density and atomic number) 
Anyways, it allows for rows with beads to built in comparison to one another and it's easy to use numbers or colors to show inequalities and also has a small box as a hide feature which can be used to challenge student's understanding and recall. By the way, this too is free. 

Virtual Manipulatives- This is better for teachers that want students to learn about rational numbers; specifically looking at the commonalities between fractions, decimals and percents. What it does is use fractions, decimals and percents but color codes them with proportional sized pieces (like pattern tiles) so comparisons between the amounts can be made. Students can "hold" a fraction to see the equivalent amount in percents or decimals which is a nice feature that traditional manipulatives cannot deliver. Students can save their work and come back to it later if you are under narrow time constraints. Good for upper elementary and early MS. Free.

Top Picks
Explain Everything-I've used this one for the last two yeas and it is dynamite. It has more features than educreations and being able to insert movies from the camera roll is a nice feature. What I think that is really nice about this app is that it can serve as a departure from traditional summative assessments and transform them into a more performance or project-based assessment. Students can work up towards problems with increasing difficulty which builds on foundational skills and gives students the opportunity for remediation and reflection. Here is an example of two of my students using it in geometry.

 Infuse Learning-This is a student response system wherein a teacher can design assessments, (usually more formative in nature) and administer them through any mobile device. What's nice about it, is that teachers see student progress in real time which is an effect not offered by Socrative or Google Forms. You can embed images too and there is audio translations for ESL learners. It also translates questions as well.
I have been using Infuse Learning quite often this year and I must say: It's dynamite. No lost passwords or usernames and it's free. I presented this at a speedgeeking session when Kim Cofino was in town and got a lot of positive responses. I've also done some tutorials to get you started.

Drawing Pad-At first glance, I thought drawing pad would be yet another whiteboard/chalkboard/paint tool. It is, but on steroids. The pallate of tools that you can use to create is simply dazzling and there are features and effects that make any created content a work of art. When you start playing with this, you can't help but explore all the possibilities of design. It also made me realize what a narrow swatch of brush sizes and color features comprise some other apps out there. Although not specifically a math app, it has a range of uses, math just happens to be one.

All these apps help substitute, augment and in some ways, modify the ways that students can learn and demonstrate their learning. However, I think a undervalued part of content creation these days is having students learn from one another and not merely making content for the purposes of assessment. Create a sharing network and method in your class where student created work can be viewed, critiqued and learned from by other members of your class. Also, create in-school PD where staff can learn these tools and their many uses.

If you exhaust the above pics and want to explore more on your own check out the extensive list here. For any interested readers, what are your thoughts on the following:

1.) Which math apps do you prefer for content creation, information consumption and review purposes?
2.) Do you think Ipads should only be used in ES, ES and MS, or school wide?
3.) In your professional opinion, is a laptop or Ipad better suited for learning in the classroom?

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