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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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11 Virtual Tools for the Math Classroom

More and more classrooms are gaining access to technology that can be used with students. Whether you're modeling a lesson, creating stations or working in a one-to-one classroom, virtual tools can promote student engagement while increasing academic success.

Here are some free apps for iPads -- along with a few other tips -- that can transform your daily lessons and are definitely worth checking out!

 

Base Ten Blocks

Number Pieces is a great free app that allows every student with an iPad to have an endless number of base ten blocks at their fingertips. Whether they are learning basic place value, modeling how to add decimals or exploring expanded notation, this app is worth looking into. Children can write all over the iPad screen and demonstrate their thought process as they manipulate the virtual base ten blocks.

Protractor

Even on an iPad, a protractor can be used as a tool to measure angles. Children can simply practice making acute and obtuse angles by moving the line on the screen, or they can measure the angles in objects placed on top of their iPad. Try putting traditional pattern blocks or cutout paper shapes on top of an iPad screen. There are even a few apps that let you use the camera on an iPad or an iPod Touch for measuring angles.

Graph Paper

Geometry Pad lets children draw lines and shapes on graph paper. They can plot points on this coordinate grid and even add text to the screen. This app is easy to use and includes tons of functions to try out. Educreations also lets students change the background of their screen to graph paper before they start writing.

Geoboard

Say goodbye to rubber bands! This virtual tool is perfect for elementary and middle school classrooms. Kids can simply create polygons on their geoboard to show off different quadrilaterals and triangles. They can also find the perimeter and area of each shape.

Ruler

Ruler is a neat app to try out on your iPad -- it simply turns your screen into a ruler. Students can measure items placed on their screen in inches and centimeters. They can solve perimeter and area problems with the information they gather using this virtual measurement tool. There are also apps that help children learn how to use a ruler properly.

Clock

Whether you’re teaching elapsed time or just helping students monitor their pacing and stamina, the timer built into the clock that comes with the iPad (or one of the many comparable options) is a great addition to your classroom. It's perfect for teachers with one iPad or for children working in small groups, as they can now calculate how much time has passed or learn how to read a clock with these virtual tools.

Glossary

The Common Core State Standards stress the importance of having children use math vocabulary in written and spoken explanations of their thinking. MathTerms Glossary can help students learn definitions of different words so that they can use them appropriately. It's a great reference tool for students in a one-to-one classroom and even has Spanish language entries.

Want to learn more? Here's a webcast from APPitic, a site maintained by Apple Distinguished Educator that focuses on using the iPad to teach Common Core math.

A quick substitution of a traditional tool can be a great way to experiment with new technology. Have you tried out any virtual math tools in your classroom?

Comments (21)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Beth Holland's picture
Beth Holland
Instructor and Communications Coordinator at EdTechTeacher
Blogger

Hi Monica.

This is a great post! Recently, I learned about the iSolveIt apps from CAST (http://isolveit.cast.org). You may want to add them to your list.

Beth

KillionLaura's picture
KillionLaura
Pre-Service Early Childhood and Special Education Major

I agree with this statement. I think that using the manipulative in its concrete form has a much longer lasting effect than touching a screen does. Especially for students with a disability, the actual process of moving blocks around to help them solve a problem can allow their mind to grasp on to something and help them retain the information.

Monica Burns's picture
Monica Burns
Educator, Consultant, ADE , ClassTechTips.com
Blogger

I definitely agree that concrete materials are a must-have! These virtual tools are great for promoting student engagement and multi-app projects but not a true replacement for the real thing.

[quote]I believe in 3D concrete materials,hands on,not virtual,you don't forget what you touch.[/quote][quote]I believe in 3D concrete materials,hands on,not virtual,you don't forget what you touch.[/quote][quote]I believe in 3D concrete materials,hands on,not virtual,you don't forget what you touch.[/quote]

Monica Burns's picture
Monica Burns
Educator, Consultant, ADE , ClassTechTips.com
Blogger

Thanks Beth!
[quote]Hi Monica.

This is a great post! Recently, I learned about the iSolveIt apps from CAST (http://isolveit.cast.org). You may want to add them to your list.

Beth[/quote][quote]Hi Monica.

This is a great post! Recently, I learned about the iSolveIt apps from CAST (http://isolveit.cast.org). You may want to add them to your list.

Beth[/quote]

Monica Burns's picture
Monica Burns
Educator, Consultant, ADE , ClassTechTips.com
Blogger

Giving students time to choose between math fluency games can be a great (and educational) reward for positive behavior. The iPad is so much more than a toy or game system and it's so great to hear about how teachers are exploring its potential in the classroom!

[quote]It's great how useful iPads are, especially for students with EBD. As a future math teacher, these apps are great for my students and can benefit them in many ways. However, do you think you could use these apps as a reward for students with EBD? A lot of students with EBD use reward systems to promote positive behavior. An iPad can be a great reward for these students, especially if it will help increase the desired behavior.[/quote][quote]It's great how useful iPads are, especially for students with EBD. As a future math teacher, these apps are great for my students and can benefit them in many ways. However, do you think you could use these apps as a reward for students with EBD? A lot of students with EBD use reward systems to promote positive behavior. An iPad can be a great reward for these students, especially if it will help increase the desired behavior.[/quote]

Alejandro Gomez Arangua's picture

"Decir que la matematica se puede ensenar con hojas de calculo es como decir que un nino puede tener unas vacaciones mirando un folleto"

"Saying math can be taught with worksheets is like saying a child can have a vacation by looking at a brochure"

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

My current favorite Math app is DragonBox. It's designed like a puzzle game (like Angry Birds) that teaches kids the basics of Alebraic thinking. It has a nice amount of scaffolding built in so it introduces new skills and challenges at a steady clip.

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