About dcaleb

Husband, Father, Photographer, Teacher, traveler

Ideas for Shared iPads

How lucky are we? We recently added 6 iPads to each G3-5 class, augmenting their existing 1:1 Macbook Air laptops.

Planning for valuable use of shared devices requires some creative thinking, particularly when you are used to 1:1 devices. That said, the small number of devices provides a great opportunity to differentiate for powerful learning, maximise small-group rotations and engage in collaborative activities.

Together with some of our wonderful Digital Literacy Mentors (Mike & Jocelyn), Dave and I developed some ideas about how to best manage shared devices and use them effectively to support learning.

We hope you find these tips for shared devices useful.

Learning How to Focus

Take a look at the photo below. What does it tell you? What do you notice?
It tells me that with close to 60 tabs open, this student was so distracted by the extension that he/she wasted a significant amount of time being off task. The worrying thing is that if this student continues these patterns of behaviour, he/she will find it increasingly hard to focus on learning. Let’s face it – learning is our business!

But how much direct teaching goes into helping students learn how to focus? I’m willing to wager not enough. We need to be fair to our students: we can’t expect them to pick it up through osmosis. As teachers, part of our role is to teach into how to focus, not merely that one should focus.Telling students to delete distracting elements such as non-educational chrome extensions is not enough; students need to understand the reasons behind the request – why is it unsuitable for learning?

After all, they’re not doing this maliciously – they have a genuine curiosity and love making their devices feel like their own. The trouble is, many of their choices have a negative impact on their ability to stay on track and focused.
Helping students to identify what helps their learning and what hinders their learning is a great place to start.
Chrome Extensions
Recently, we had a number of students install a Chrome Extension called Tabby Cat. It’s a cute, harmless-looking extension that shows a different cat every time you open a new tab. You can interact with it, and sometimes you will get little gifts to play with. Sounds ok, right?
I asked the class to tell me what they liked about this Tabby Cat. Predictably, the responses were as follows:
“It’s cute!”
“It’s fun because you get toys to play with if you keep opening new tabs.”
“Every new tab is different.”
“I want to see what is going to happen next and if I will get any gifts”

Helping students understand that each new picture of a cat is essentially rewarding distracting behaviour, can help them make better choices.One recommendation is to replace Tabby Cat with the Chrome Extension Momentum, which gives one new picture a day, together with the question: What is your main focus for today? This personal reminder prompts students that they have a task to complete, with a beautiful photo that doesn’t change every tab.

Vision and Movement

“Vision trumps all other senses,”  according to John Medina, author of Brain Rules. Approximately half of the brain’s resources are dedicated to processing visuals. Our brains are attuned to noticing colour and movement, so moving backgrounds, animated gifs and scrolling advertisements draw our attention.

 

In a G3 class recently, we did an audit of our visual noise. Common things we saw were:
  • Animated snow falling on Gmail backgrounds (or similar)
  • Desktop backgrounds where the picture changes every 5 seconds
  • Highly pixelated images used as desktop backgrounds
In pairs, students helped each other make good decisions to remove distracting movement – that was the easy part. The hard part was making good decisions about their desktop backgrounds. Saying goodbye to their favourite sports star or cartoon character was more of a challenge for some.

We discussed quality resolution of images being more pleasing to the eye. We also introduced the idea of colour association. Green is a calming colour (think, Green Rooms backstage in theatres) and blue can help with productivity. Encouraging students to choose a green/blue-based image that is high quality helped them see they still had some choice and the option of personalisation, but not at the expense of their focus.

Number of Desktops

Students using school laptops that don’t go home, really have no need for multiple desktops. Deleting extra desktops will help to remove the temptation to swipe between apps.

 

Reader View (Safari) or Readability (Chrome Extension) 
When looking at websites, particularly those which have articles, using Reader View in Safari or  the Chrome Extension Readability can help strip away those annoying advertisements and other extraneous and distracting material, allowing us to focus primarily on the text and images in the article. Check out the tutorial below:

Effective Digital Reading using Safari Reader View from UWC South East Asia on Vimeo.

Tidying your “Room” 
When in a rush, it’s easy to leave your desktop background as a cluttered disaster, always thinking, “I’ll clean it up later.” Many of our student’s desktops look like this (not unlike my teenage bedroom):
A secondary-click (right-click, or 2-finger tap) > Clean up by > Kind, helps organise files into groups of the same type. See below:
Once organised by kind, it’s easy to trash all the screenshots and/or arrange files into folders.
We recommend moving files/folders to Google Drive or Documents on a Mac (depending on file type) rather than keep things on the desktop, so as to make startup as smooth as possible. Aesthetically, it’s also more pleasing!
These suggestions are aimed at helping empower our younger students to make better choices by being well informed about distracting elements on their laptop. If you are interested in specific apps and Chrome Extensions to take managing distractions one step further (blocking specific sites etc), you may wish to check out our recent Parenting in the Digital Age resources.
Do you have any other great tips for managing distractions in primary? We welcome your ideas!

Parenting in the Digital Age – The Conversation Continues

Being the first group of people to parent the iPad generation certainly is an adventure.

On the one hand, we are amazed by their capabilities to navigate between applications, create movies, build websites and FaceTime their grandparents. On the other hand, we may feel anxious about buzzwords like ‘screentime’, ‘game-addiction’, ‘distractions’ and ‘cyber bullying.’

Keep in mind that advances in technology have helped families in numerous ways. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Communication – We can communicate quickly and easily with people around the globe via messages, email, FaceTime, FaceBook and instant messaging. In our international school setting, this is a huge benefit.
  • Efficiency and Organisation – GPS has changed the nature of travel. We can find any address easily, even if we haven’t been there before. We can use apps to organise our shopping list, to sell our used goods, and let’s not forget do our banking.
  • Learning – Now we can teach ourselves anything with the powers of YouTube, Pinterest and Google combined! Lost the rules to your board game? No problem! Need to change a tyre? Can do! Learning can be 24-7.
  • Entertainment – It’s only in the last few years that Netflix came into being! Developments in movie and video distribution, the gaming industry and the explosion of apps means there is a little something for everyone when it comes to entertainment.
  • Medical – At the consumer end of the scale, fitness monitoring is now built into many devices, and made it easier to be aware of the need to keep exercising regularly.
We are, however, realistic about the challenges facing parents too. We have put together a resource that has information, articles, and apps around common pressure points for parents. We have tried to provide a balanced perspective around some of these key issues so that you as parents can find an approach or strategy that best fits your parenting style.
We encourage you to keep the lines of communication open with your children. Inspired by the Key Jar, we have put together a list of questions that might help you begin some conversations with your child around some of these issues. Perhaps print them both off and mix them in together?

Common Sense Media has a lot of resources around parent concerns, so that is also a great source of information.At the end of the day, each family is different, and you need to find the right combination of solutions to challenges that works for you. We hope these resources are a step in the right direction.Please let us know any other resources you think might be useful, and we will do our best to add them.

Documentation Using Technology

“Stand aside for a while and leave room for learning, observe carefully what children do, and then, if you have understood well, perhaps teaching will be different from before.” 

– Loris Malaguzzi

Inspired by the work of Reggio Emilia, UWCSEA East infant teachers have been exploring documentation to make learning and thinking visible. The role of the teacher in this process is to observe the students carefully, look for those significant moments, and capture images/videos together with examples of student voice.

This documentation is brought to their teaching teams so they can interpret it, explore options for next steps for the students involved, and make connections to the curriculum where relevant.

We had the opportunity to present to the infant teachers about ways technology can help support the documentation process. As you can imagine, technology is a natural fit for this sort of process, so we had lots to share.

Our presentation is below. We would love to hear your ideas about ways technology can enhance the documentation process. Leave us a comment!

A Beginner’s Guide to Google Apps for Education

At a recent parent forum, we had requests for a workshop on Google Apps, so parents can understand what their child is doing at school and support them at home.

We focused on Google Docs, Google Drive and GMail. You can see a summary of what we spoke about in the presentation below.

We used the context of Favourite Restaurants in Singapore to show some of the features of docs. Check it out!

For more self-directed learning with Google Apps, try the Google Apps Learning Centre.

Top 10 Tips for Tech and Travel


Travel Journals using Book Creator

 

What a great way to have a record of your summer vacation! Spice up the regular travel diary with Book Creator.

 

Kids will have fun writing a daily log of their travels and including recorded sounds, photos and videos.
Google Maps Offline

 

I can’t imagine my world without Google Maps and I use them all the time.

 

When travelling, we aren’t always connected to wifi or data. The solution is to download the map while you are connected and then you will have access to the map offline.

 

Packing Apps
I swear by my favourite Packing apps Packing Pro (free, $4.48 for premium) and Pack Point (free, with in-app purchases).

 

The premium Packing Pro generates expert lists for each family member – perfect when you’re travelling with family. You can add/remove items as needed. The checklist really helps to make sure you’ve remembered everything.

Pack Point can generate lists too, but for 1 traveller only at this stage. The interface is considerably nicer, however!
Packing Techniques

 

The good folk at LifeHacker have collated a series of tips on packing techniques to help you save space and carry more.

 

There is a little something for everyone, including my favourite tip: Invest in packing cells!
Google Translate

 

Google Translate is a fantastic tool when you are travelling somewhere where you don’t speak the language.

 

It is a free app and can even be used when you aren’t connected to the internet if you download language packs.
TripIt
This amazing app and website easily organises your travel plans. Simply forward booking confirmations to plans@tripit.com to have an itinerary automatically created.

 

Maps, directions and details are all in one place. Super handy if you have a busy itinerary. You can add plans as needed, and it prints out beautifully if you need a paper copy.
Where to Eat
The FourSquare website and app are a hungry traveller’s best friend. Do a location-based search to find the best restaurants (or coffee, nightlife, fun, shopping) nearby.

Partner app Swarm allows you to check into places and have a record of your visit. Swarm links to FourSquare, so you can leave reviews for your favourite places there too.
Where to Stay
You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of AirBnB, the popular vacation rental website and its accompanying app. While we love AirBnB, you may not have heard of a similar service, called VRBO. VRBO does all the same things, frequently with different properties, so make sure you check it out – you might find your perfect holiday home there.
Photo Scavenger Hunt

 

Creating a photo scavenger hunt is a great holiday activity for kids of all ages. Grab some ideas from Pinterest, or build your own interactive one using Klikaklu.

 

Klikaklu is a fun app designed for creating photo treasure hunts on your iPhone.
Summer Digital Projects for Families

 

 

Everything from starting a family blog to coding and creating photo albums.


Have we missed anything? What are your favourite tech and travel tips? Please share below!

Breakout EDU Migration Edition

BreakoutEDU is the brainchild of Google Educator and High School teacher James Sanders. Observing his students playing Escape the Room style video games, he was amazed at how engaged they were and wanted to create that same level of engagement for learning and problem solving during class time.

Enter BreakoutEDU.

James flipped the idea of escaping from a room on its head, instead getting participants to attempt to break into a box with a series of different locks attached. Clues to each lock could be hidden around a classroom, encouraging “critical thinking, teamwork, and complex problem-solving” across a range of content areas.

I first played BreakoutEDU at the Google Apps Summit in Singapore in September, and knew it had a lot of potential, particularly for the development of the traits of the UWCSEA Learner Profile. My MS/HS counterpart Jeff Plaman worked with DT teachers to build Breakout boxes, and we managed to procure a range of locks with the help of Head of Chinese Wendy Liao.

We played one of the pre-existing games with teachers at our Tech Mentor retreat, and have been searching for some opportunities to create games in the primary school ever since. Grade 3’s unit on Migration gave us the perfect opportunity.

G3 teachers & TAs playing the Migration Breakout

Grade 3 Tech mentor Mike Bowden and Unit of Study mentor Kim Duffy worked with Jeff and me to design a game to help G3 students develop collaborative group work skills, while also gaining some insight into what it is like for new immigrants to navigate the language and culture of a new location.

We tested the game out on the G3 teachers and teacher assistants (who performed admirably and broke out in the nick of time) before we tried it out on students in Mike’s class.

We divided the class into 2 groups of 11, and had 2 facilitators in each class (a teacher and a TA). Aside from the huge level of noise that came from each group (seriously!), we found it hugely successful in that they were thoroughly engaged, motivated and determined to break out.

One of the most powerful aspects of Breakout is the reflection afterwards. Students learned a lot about how they participated and contributed to their group – not all of it positive! Every child I spoke to wanted to do it again, and each could give insightful reasons as to what they would do differently next time and why.

Of the two groups, one broke out, and one didn’t. Sometimes, as teachers, we want to make it so that all groups are successful, but there is learning to be had, whether or not a group gets into the box or not.

If you would like to get started with BreakoutEDU, I’d encourage you to join the BreakoutEDU Facebook community, and explore the existing games on the BreakoutEDU Site. We are also happy to answer any questions or share resources.

First Drones and Spheros Activity – What We Learned

(Written by Keri-Lee Beasley and Dave Caleb)


As Digital Literacy Coaches at UWCSEA, we have always taken the opportunity to get our students coding whenever we can, given that it is not currently in our written curriculum. The Week of Code has been very successful in the past and we wanted to find a way to get our students coding in other ways.
 
 


In August, we attended the Asia Pacific ADE Institute in Singapore. One of the activities at the institute involved using the Tickle app which uses simple drag-and-drop code to control Spheros and Rolling Spider mini-drones. An idea was born.


We decided that we could offer an activity at school involving these great tools to our primary students. We purchased 10 Spheros and 10 Rolling Spider Drones and offered the activity to 20 students.


We hope that in sharing some of the things we have learned, we will save other people some time when setting up their own Coding activity!


Pair Your Spheros
Spheros have a 3-colour code which flashes when they are turned on, e.g. BBY (blue, blue, yellow). We used a sticker to label each sphero with a number, then paired one Sphero to one iPad and labelled the iPad with the same sticker. This proved to make our time with the Spheros considerably more efficient. Students arrived, found their Sphero and iPad easily and were able to get to work right away, without having to figure out which of the 10 Spheros was theirs, and to pair it accordingly.


Start off by letting them play


The first time the students touched the Spheros, we showed them how to connect to the iPads and then we let them play. We wanted them to inquire into what they could do with the sphero and see what was possible. We decided to use the free Tickle app as it uses drag and drop block code programing to control the Spheros.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Embrace incidental learning and don’t over plan


Originally, we thought that we had to have a lot of different activities for the students to do each time we had the activity. We learned that allowing a lot of time for the students to experiment and learn from their mistakes was very important.


The second time we met, we challenged the students to code the Sphero to make some geographic shapes, including making a square and a triangle. This was more of a challenge than we thought it was going to be, e.g. for a Triangle, Code: move forward for 1 second, turn 60 degrees, move forward for 1 second, turn 60 degrees, move forward 1 second, then stop. Easy right?


Well, as we all quickly figured out, 60 degrees is the inside angle of a triangle, but we actually need the sphero to rotate 120 degrees (the supplementary angle of 60 degrees) to create the inside angle of a triangle. Students eagerly inquired into solving this problem.


Many of them also discovered that if they included a pause between each piece of code that involved movement, they would have more accuracy in the creation of their triangle. It was nice to share these student learnings with the rest of the group.
 


Students love a challenge


We printed mazes on paper using the large format printer. The challenge for the students was to get their sphero through the maze without running over the lines. They loved this challenge and enjoyed fine tuning their code on Tickle to get their Sphero through the maze. Even though the sphero was on a paper map, the material under the paper (carpet or linoleum) affected their results. The students also realized that the light on one part of the sphero was the back and they could point the sphero in the direction they wanted in the app.
 
 

Collaborative Learning


We know that students learn best with others and this activity really helped prove that. Our students enjoyed having someone else to bounce ideas off of and explore different possibilities for their code. The students didn’t argue over who got to enter the lines of code as they were able to try different ideas quickly and see the results. Each student could easily try their own idea and they were working together to solve a problem.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Drone Dramas


The students were enjoying the Spheros but we decided we would try to use the mini-drones. There were a few differences which presented us with challenges when compared to the Spheros. The drones couldn’t be paired as easily with just one iPad like we had done with the Spheros. So when the students turned on the drone, it would appear on every iPad. So we had to clearly label the drones to make sure that the students only connected to their drone.
 
Keep them Charged
 
We made sure that the Spheros were always charged and we didn’t have any problems with them running out of batteries as long as we had remembered to charge them beforehand. We had been warned that the mini-drones have a very short battery life so we bought 5 extra batteries. Flying the drones constantly runs the battery down really quickly. You can actually see the battery percentage slowly counting down. So instead of flying the drones constantly, the students tried to run short flight programs.


A Different Purpose
 
Once again, when the students first started using the drones, we got them the explore on their own what they could do. There were a number of crashes and a few bent rotors but it was all ok.


At first, the students were getting frustrated with the drones because they are not as precise as the Spheros. The students could run the code twice and get two different results. Sometimes the drones would take off and mysteriously drift backwards.


The solution was to use the drones in a different way than we had been using the spheros. Instead of trying to get them to follow a program and follow a precise course, we found that the students could use more real time commands to control the drones.


The students use the tilt and shake features to control the drone. For example, if they tilt the iPad to the right the drone would turn right, tilt to the left and it would go to the left. This allowed them to take better control of the drones and we had fewer crashes. A useful command that the students used was if the iPad was shaken, then the drone would land. Sometimes the drone was flying too close to someone and the person controlling the iPad just had to shake the iPad and the drone would land.


One of our worries is that if one of the students uses the iPad to control the drone in this fashion, it becomes less of a team effort than entering code and seeing if their program works. When students enter a set of commands as a team, it doesn’t matter who presses the button and starts the program running, the device is going to do what the program says. When the program is designed to respond to how the iPad is moved, it becomes more of a one person activity. There is, of course, value in both forms of coding and that is the point. It is great to have a balance and learn how to use both types of coding experience.


Never Assume you are right

 

When we originally started out, we thought that the drones would be so popular that once we got to them, the students wouldn’t want to go back to the spheros. We were wrong. A number of the students wanted to go back to the spheros. And, to be honest, if we had to choose between the drones and the spheros, we would choose the spheros for the accuracy and especially for their battery life. But we are so excited that we have both because they both offer something a bit different and the students love learning to make these machines work but dragging and dropping code into a box on an iPad.


Mathematics Apps for School

We are always hearing about new apps and trying to find ones that are great for students. There are so many mathematics apps available, it is hard to find the ones that are best for student learning.
Recently we sat down with our school’s Mathematics Coach, Tilson Crew, to evaluate what apps we should put on the Infant (K1, K2 and grade 1) and Junior (Grade 2-5) iPads. Tilson has an incredible understanding of mathematics and what is best for students of all age levels.
So many of the mathematics apps out there are ones that have the student just practice algorithms. We were looking for apps that would set themselves apart in a number of ways.
So what sets a great mathematics app apart from others? There are a number of features that we really like which make the app great in a school environment.

1. Is the app customizable? Can you start at different levels or do you always have to start from the beginning? If we can start further ahead, it is easier to customize the app so the older students don’t have to start with levels that are much too easy for them.

2. Does the app allow for different users? In a classroom, there isn’t always one iPad for each student. So having an app that allows students to log in and have their own experience is a great feature. Mathematics apps often increase in difficulty (as they should) as the student gets better. But what happens when a student who is very proficient uses the app and then another student who isn’t as proficient tries it and it is too hard. Having different users in an app allows for each student to progress at their own speed. Many of the apps that have different users also allow a teacher (or parent) to go and monitor the progress of the different users.

3. Does the app require more complex thinking? Or is it simply drilling and practice of math facts? Some apps require students to think in multiple ways when solving a problem while others are repetitively solving problems. Not that there is anything wrong with repetitively solving problems, but many apps do that. You can find worksheets or internet based games that will do that.

4. Is the app engaging? Student engagement is an important factor. Of course, not every student is going to be engaged with everything that is done at school. However, when I hear a student say that they have to get this

5. How much time does the student spend on mathematics? Some apps have a lot of bells and whistles and fancy graphics. They look great on the outside, but students might not spend that much time actually engaging in mathematical thinking.

6. Does the app put the pressure of time on the students? Timed mathematics practice can be a very touchy subject. Generally, we don’t like apps that put pressure on students when they are learning. This isn’t an absolute, but it is nice if this feature can be turned on or off.

Of course we are not saying that all apps have to have all of these features. But these are some of the things we are considering when we evaluate mathematics apps.

Here are some of the apps that we found that we really liked.

Addimals – A great app that teaches adding strategies.

Appropriate for: K – 3

1.  Is the app customizable? You can’t customize where students start. But the students are taught about different strategies in adding.

2. Does the app allow for different users? Yes. Teachers can also monitor the progress of individual students.

3. Does the app require more complex thinking? The app encourages students to try different addition strategies. They can choose the best strategy for the question.

4. Is the app engaging? Students enjoy the app and enjoy the progress they see.

5. How much time does the student spend on mathematics? Although there are videos in between levels, I find that students are very motivated to get to the mathematics and often skipped over the videos.

6. Does the app put the pressure of time on the students? The only time that the students are under time pressure is when they are working on the memorization part of the app.

Cost – Free

Overall – This is a great app for school. I love how students can be tracked and progress in their own time. One of my favourite things about this app is that it teaches students different mathematics strategies. Must have.

If you like Addimals, you should take a look at the Mt. Multiplis app by the same Teachley Group. It is designed to teach multiplication strategies and is in the same style as Addimals. Here is a quick video.

 

Subitize Tree – An app to teach quick recognition of numbers

Appropriate for: K – 3

1.  Is the app customizable? You can choose different level to start.

2. Does the app allow for different users? No


3. Does the app require more complex thinking? No

4. Is the app engaging? Somewhat – because the app does one thing (shows a number quickly and then gets students to recall what number was displayed), students can sometimes lose interest.

5. How much time does the student spend on mathematics? There are some breaks in the app and I wish it moved along a bit faster, but overall it is quite good.

6. Does the app put the pressure of time on the students? Yes. The whole point of subitizing is to quickly recall how many items are in a group. But the amount of time that is allowed is customisable.

Cost – $0.99

Overall – This app is designed to do one thing – test the student’s ability to see a set of objects and recall how many there are in the set. It does a good job of this and one can customize the level which students start at. Great for specific skill.

Friends of Ten – Using two rows of 5 to teach concepts around recognizing numbers to ten without counting them.

Appropriate for: K-2

1.  Is the app customizable? No, but there are a number of activities in the app

2. Does the app allow for different users? No

3. Does the app require more complex thinking? No

 

4. Is the app engaging? There are a number of different activities to engage the students

5. How much time does the student spend on mathematics? The mathematics is the focus of the app
6. Does the app put the pressure of time on the students? No
Cost – $0.99

Sushi Monster – An app which requires students to find two numbers that when added together (or another part of the app, multiplied together) form a number.

Appropriate for: K – 5

1.  Is the app customizable? No. You need to go through the levels to get to the next level. But once you have gone through a level, you can go back to it

2. Does the app allow for different users? No

3. Does the app require more complex thinking? There can be multiple options to add a set of numbers together.

4. Is the app engaging? Students can choose from addition or multiplication and they enjoyed trying to beat their score.

5. How much time does the student spend on mathematics? The mathematics is the focus of the app with a little wait time for the question to be asked.
6. Does the app put the pressure of time on the students? No
Cost – Free
Overall – I really like how there are multiple options that the students can choose when solving a problem using this app.

Jungle Time – An app to teach student about time.

Appropriate for: K – 3

1.  Is the app customizable? There are lots of options to customize including the sounds and different time intervals.

2. Does the app allow for different users? No

3. Does the app require more complex thinking? No

4. Is the app engaging? Young students will enjoy the animals in the app.

5. How much time does the student spend on mathematics? The majority of time students spend in the app is trying to tell time but some of their time is spent waiting for the hands of the clock to spin around.
6. Does the app put the pressure of time on the students? No
Cost – $2.99

Overall – The app does a good job of helping students learn to tell time and has a number of options to customize the app.

 

Blackboard Madness Math – A great app for challenging students’ thinking. Very much like Fruit Ninja.

Appropriate for: Grades 4 – 5

1.  Is the app customizable? No

2. Does the app allow for different users? No

3. Does the app require more complex thinking? Yes – students are required to look at nontraditional questions and solve them quickly.

4. Is the app engaging? Students enjoy the way the nature of the game where they have to slash the correct answer.

5. How much time does the student spend on mathematics? Students are always engaging in complex mathematics
6. Does the app put the pressure of time on the students? Yes – the students are under pressure to solve problems quickly.
Cost – Free

Overall – This is a wonderful app for challenging students in terms of complex thinking and problem solving. The pressure of answering questions quickly won’t be for all students though.

 

Mathboard – A Mathematics learning focused app that isn’t flashy, but focuses on helping students learn about the four basic operations.

Appropriate for: Grades 2 – 5

1.  Is the app customizable? Yes – This is the best app for customization. You can customize the language and even customize the way each word is said (e.g you can change sum to add or plus or any other word).

2. Does the app allow for different users? Yes – and you can track the progress of the different students.

3. Does the app require more complex thinking? Yes – students are required to look at nontraditional questions and solve them quickly.

4. Is the app engaging? This app is not flashy like some mathematics apps, but it is based on learning.

5. How much time does the student spend on mathematics? This app is all about learning. Students can even put in their own question (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) and the app will show them how to solve it step by step.
6. Does the app put the pressure of time on the students? No
Cost – $4.99
Overall – Check out the video below to see the features in action. It is one of my favourite apps and totally worth the $4.99 price tag. You can track students and it is very customizable.

Kakooma – An non-traditional addition app which requires the student to look at nine numbers and find a set of three related numbers.

Appropriate for: Grades 3 – 5

1.  Is the app customizable? There are 4 different levels one can try

2. Does the app allow for different users? No

3. Does the app require more complex thinking? Yes – students scan a series of numbers and try multiple combinations to find a set of three. It is a puzzle type format and can be challenging.

4. Is the app engaging? Once you know how to play, the app can be very engaging.

5. How much time does the student spend on mathematics? There are no bells and whistles on this app. There aren’t even clear instructions. The whole time students are on this app, they are working on addition skills.
6. Does the app put the pressure of time on the students? It is timed activity but the running clock is small and in the top corner of the app.
Cost – Free
Overall – I love this puzzle app. There are so many problem solving strategies that students can use while trying to find the set of three numbers.