Wednesday, March 13, 2013



I’ve been learning about students’ thinking about fractions while observing them using VersaMate, a fraction app for the iPad from ETA Hand2mind ( as a way to practice equivalent fractions. The free version of the app provides two activities in a game format.  The game aspect of the app is for two players (one of whom could be the computer) to take turns matching the problem provided to the answers provided. The game part of the activity involves solving problems to move on the game board in order to capture the “prize.”
In the first activity the students identify fractions that are represented by a circle model with a the specific fractional part shaded.  Identifying equivalent fractions by finding the missing number that makes the fraction equivalent is the second activity on the free app.  The type of thinking that is involved with solving these problems varies depending on what part of the fraction is missing.  Four problems appear in this game with a different part of the fraction missing; it might be the numerator in the first fraction, it might be the denominator in the second fraction.  I like this part of the app because I’ve noticed that students have to use their understanding about fractions in order to be able to solve the variety of the problems.
The purchased component of the VersaMate app ($4.99) has the same game format as the free version.  The first choice of activities are Equivalent Fractions with four options: Whole Numbers as Fractions, Improper Fractions and MIxed Numbers, Decompose Fractions and Decimals (with denominators of 10 or 100). The second choice of activities under the title Compare and Order Fractions are: Compare like denominators, compare lie numerators, and compare unlike fractions. When playing the Decompose Fractions and Decimals game, the students are provided with fractions with a denominator of 10 or 100 and need to match it to the decimal equivalent.  If a student makes an incorrect match they are taken to a page that shows a number line labeled with fractions and decimals equivalents, with the correct relationship indicated. The third set of activities involves adding ad subtracting like fractions. This set of activities has five options which addresses fractions less than one and mixed numbers. Multiplying and dividing fractions are the fourth and fifth set of options in the purchased component of VersaMate.
Each option in the set of activities includes an opportunity to land on a prize.  When the prize has been captured, there is a bonus question that has students apply their understanding in a slightly different way than they used to capture the prize.
There is not an option to record the student’s work progress.  When working with students there are several options: students can play against each other, or against the computer, or against myself.  When students are playing, I ask probing questions in order to learn about their thinking and how they are solving the problems. The app could be used by the student independently but I would then want to have some sort of exit slip in order to learn what the student “got out of” doing the app.
Overall, I’ve found the app well worth the $4.99. Students are always eager to work with this app and find it engaging to use the app with a classmate.

Conundra math app


Conundra math app is similar to the game 23 in that a target number is given and students use the four operations to figure out a number sentence that equals the target number. Students can change their number sentence by using the "undo" button, which they liked.

I had a couple of sixth grade students use this app today.  They liked working on the problems together and that they could go back and change their original equation. When they complet a round of the game the screen shows the equations that they wrote during the round and it gives them a statement of how many equations they wrote correctly out of the number of equations they attempted.  They are also provided with the average score of their games playes and their percentile average.

One frustration I see with the app is that when the equations are presented at the end to the students they are presented the way the students solved the problem. For example 9+3x2≠24 but when they did this on the iPad the problem is done one step at a time, 9+3=12, then they work with 12x2 to get 24. When written correctly to get 24 it would have to have parenthesis (9+3)x2=24 but this is not they way the equation is displayed on the final summary screen.

Show Me app

I've been very excited about what I'm learning about students' understanding of mathematics through the use of the Show Me app.  This is a free app that allows students to record what they are saying and writing on the iPad.  It's wonderful.  I've had several students record their thinking about a specific math concept.  I'm able to listen to what the student says, how he/she says it (sometimes I hear a sigh as if the student is thinking hard about what he/she is trying to do), and I can see what the student writes on the iPad to support his/her thinking.  The students are highly motivated to make sure that their recording is clear, correct, and makes sense.  I hear students recording their thinking more than once because they didn't like their first or second recording. It has taken only a few minutes to show the students how to use the Show Me app.

The students that I am working with are students who have been identified through the RTI process and are receiving extra math support two times a week for about 40 minutes, outside of math class. They are eager to use the iPad (no surprise here!) and seem to be very engaged with trying to show their thinking about mathematics.  They've demonstrated many of the Mathematical Practices from the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.  I hear them trying to make sense of the math, persevering until they have a recording with which they are satisfied.  The students are modeling mathematics through the ability to draw on the screen of the iPad.  I hear students attending to precision as they record their thinking about specific problems.  I've been able to learn more about a child's mathematical knowledge and misconceptions through the work that is recorded with Show Me.

I've been impressed with the changes from one recording to the next from a particular student.  The progress is noticable in his voice on the recording. I can hear confidence as he talks about his work.  I can also hear when he knows he hasn't correctly solved a problem.  Sometimes he's made another recording in which he tries to correct his mistake from the previous recording. These repeated recordings offer me insight to the child's thinking and the progression of his thinking.

Combine Math

This math app is very similar to the 24 game where the player(s) try to write an equation using four numbers to equal a target number.  The target number can be predetermined by a setting and the choices are 12, 24, or 36.  The students who I've had use the app enjoy it and find it a good challenge.  I've had kids work on a problem using white boards and then when a student thinks he/she has an equation that works, we check it and then put it into the iPad.  The app reviews basic arithmetic skills and could be used for order of operations practice.  I've had individual students use it as well as a group activity.

There are times when the app tends to freeze and I've had to quit the program and reopen it to be able to keep working with it.  This is the only major "glitch" I've had with the app so far.

Math Pop

Math Pop is an app that allows students to practice their basic facts.  They can select one of the four operations or a mix of the four.  Eight balloons appear on the screen, four with a problem such as 4x3 and four answers that go with the problems.  When the two balloons that "go together" are touched, they disappear.
  When all the balloons have disappeared the time took to solve the four problems shows on the screen along with an encourage comment: "You rock!." 
There is also a choice of going on the the next level or practicing the probems from the previous level. The background changes at each level. I have explored to level 20 on the mixed operation problems and there is a level 21. I'm not sure how  many levels there are in the app.
I would want to watch students with this app to see which problems they solve incorrectly and to see how fast they are matching the balloon problem to the balloon solution. I had a couple of fifth grade students try it and had them record the problems they missed in writing. While one student was working on the Balloon Pop app, I was working with the other student.  There is feedback to the student about his/her success rate and time but there isn't a way for the teacher to know how the student did other than having the student do some written recording after each level.

Math Evolve

This is definitely a game and has several different things going on at once; playing into our technology savvy students.  Students practice their basic facts by either solving a problem that appears on the screen or by creating their own problem by choosing the numbers and then selecting the correct answer from several answers that are provided.  There is a story line that goes with the app if students choose to read it. There are they typical electronic game sounds.  As an adult I found that there was a lot going on but several of my students have been very engaged in the game and practicing their basic facts at the same time. A comment from a 7th grade student: "I played Math Evolve and it was very fun and at the same time I could learn my multiplication facts.  It was fun because you had to try to eliminate the bugs while you had to figure out the facts."

Everyday Math Baseball

This app is a lot like the game you'd play with cards in class. Ths app is straight forward and can be played by several players.  Comments from students who use it will be posted soon.


Sent from my iPad

Numberline ipad app


This is interesting. I made a number line for kids to fill in once they’ve put the numbers in order. There doesn’t seem to be a way to record results or see how students did using the app. It lets the student know if a number is in the wrong order.