Technology Integration

# 14 Virtual Tools for the Math Classroom

October 25, 2013 Updated March 2, 2015

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Photo credit: Kathy Cassidy via flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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 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.

### Pattern Shapes

A neat alternative to traditional pattern blocks, Pattern Shapes from the Math Learning Center is a must-have for iPad math classrooms.  In addition to moving each piece around the screen, kids can draw all over the screen to show their work.  A virtually endless supply of pattern blocks at your fingertips can help students who need extra support or strategic intervention.

### 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.

### Calculator

There are lots of calculators that can be downloaded for iPads including ones that feature scientific functions.  Two of my favorites include handwriting recognition technology so students can use their finger or a stylus to write a problem and see the correct answer.  MyScript Calculator and MyScript MathPad are great virtual tools to have available to students who want to check their work.

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?