Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Math apps from iDevBooks

Earlier this year, I downloaded a couple of math apps from iDevBooks for my own kids to use on my iPod. The Long Multiplication and Long Division apps, walk students through each step in a problem, reminding them of what they need to do at each point. They would be ideal to use after a teacher has already introduced these kinds of problems so that students who need some extra guidance can have it without monopolizing the teacher.

They were relatively expensive as far as apps go - $3.99 each (or $1.99 with volume purchase pricing) so I was hesitant when I was recommending  them to a colleague recently who teaches 3rd and 4th grade math. Her reaction was immediate though - "Oh, we NEED these apps!" Right now they are on sale - $1.99, or $0.99 with a volume purchase - but I don't know if/when they will go back  to the higher price.

The apps are very straightforward - the developer himself says that they were deliberately designed without bells and whistles, but with significant attention to how they actually help kids learn. So many learning apps seem to have been designed by someone with no knowledge of good teaching practice, it is a delight to find some that have! Some of the notable features of these apps:
  • wrong answers are not penalized
  • there are no timers, counters or a sense of rush
  • distractions are kept to a minimum
  • they can be used by multiple students using the same iDevice because they do not track scores
They are not 'games', but they do give the kids the practice and support they need to strengthen their math skills. So far, I only have the long multiplication and long division apps, but Esa Heltulla, the developer, has created 18 different math apps.
Coming soon  from the same developer- an iPad app that can be used to interact with and visualize the multiplication tables.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Math apps

I have started a spreadsheet to keep track of the math apps I've found that I think are worth using with students in grades K-5 (ages 5-11). There is a brief description of each app and I am slowly adding the Common Core standards that I think each one addresses. Bear in mind that I'm a language teacher, not a math teacher so please let me know if you find any errors! 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back-to-school specials for special kids

Summer vacation is flying by here in New England, and with just a couple of weeks left until the school year starts again there is a great apps sale happening this weekend. Carisa of Digital Storytime, Siva of Technology in (Spl) Education, and Patrick and Jeremy on the Teaching All Students blog have created a Back-to-School App Specials promotion/sale this weekend (8/12 – 8/15.)  For more info,  follow the hashtag#B2SAppSpecials on Twitter or check out the list of participating app developers (65 so far with 130 apps!) on Tech in Special Ed's  blog. If you're on Facebook, 'like' Technology in Education's page to get regular updates on useful apps. 

I took advantage of the sale to make some language-teaching purchases. In the app See.Touch.Learn (a picture learning system from BrainParade designed specifically for those with autism and other special needs), all of the in-app purchases have been discounted and are $0.99. I've had the app for a while, and had been waiting and hoping for a sale! (The basic app is free, but there are many add-on collections of images that make it more useful, as well as an upgrade that allows you to record your own voice instead of using the text-to-speech voices when you are creating new exercises for your students.)

The apps Sentence Builder, Language Builder, Conversation Builder, and Question Builder from Mobile Education Store have all been reduced to $2.99. I had a couple of their apps and used them regularly last year, so I was happy to add to my collection of their apps.

Speech with Milo: Verbs and Speech with Milo: Prepositions (and their Spanish versions)have been discounted from $2.99 to $.99  I had Speech with Milo: Prepositions and used it regularly last year. The Verbs version was on my list to buy before school starts again.