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.

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