6 apps to build algebra skills
Many students begin school with a love of math, but stumble when they reach algebra. With the increasing prevalence of mobile learning, though, on-demand apps and resources can help students stay on top of their algebra lessons.
Here, we’ve gathered a handful of algebra apps summarized on APPitic.com, an app resource site with more than 6,000 apps in more than 300 subcategories.
[Editor’s note: eSchool News has not reviewed these apps, but has selected some that may help you meet your instructional needs.]
1. Factor Race, $0.99
Begin at the starting gate with a race car. Move around the track to the finish line as you factor equations correctly. When you complete each level you earn a better race car. Ready, Get it correct, Zoooooommmm!
Factor Race is a game where the player must identify the binomial factors of trinomial equations For example, factoring x2+x-2 into (x-1)(x+2). The game uses logic to develop cognitive math skills. The touch mechanic of the game engages children in a hand-on learning process, implementing kinesthetic learning. The game incorporates mathematical problems attuned to binomial and trinomial factoring, based upon problems from textbook materials.
2. Khan Academy: Algebra 1, Free
Khan Academy Algebra allows students to learn Algebra through various videos which are download directly on your iPhone or iPod touch and in the future to your iPad. Students can watch the video anywhere, anytime, all the time and never be concerned about having access to the internet while you are going through a Khan Academy lesson.
3. Algebra Champ, Free
New to algebra? Still find that "x" a little intimidating? Download this free application and you'll be a champ in no time! Algebra Champ provides introductory level algebra skills practice with timed rounds, high scores, and a cage fight theme.
Designed for grades 6 - 8, Algebra Champ provides practice solving straightforward, single variable linear equations in an entertaining, game-like environment. Questions are randomly generated and presented in rounds of five. Answers are manageable integers (-10 to 10) and presented as multiple choice.
4. Algebra Touch, $2.99
Have you forgotten most of your algebra? Algebra Touch will refresh your skills using touch-based techniques built from the ground up for your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch.
5 tips to create strong learning environments with iPads
EdTechTeacher’s first iPad Summit was held in Boston in November 2012, and one of the first magazine articles that came out about our the event was: “The iPads in Education Conference That’s Not About iPads.” We loved the title. We will admit it; the title of the iPad Summit was a trick to get people who think they are interested in iPads to get really interested in great teach-ing and learning, which takes advantage of iPads.
Three years ago, we started seeing schools and districts making major investments in iPads, and we started hearing those same schools ask for help to support teachers as they incorporated these new devices into their classrooms. Those early adopters have been joined by other schools at an incredibly rapid pace, and for these last three years we have studied the practices of the best early adopters and have examined their successes and challenges.
One conclusion we’ve drawn is that there are no must-have apps for every classroom. Every conversation about technology needs to start with the question: “What do you want your kids to be able to do when they leave your classroom, your grade, your building, or your district? What do you care most about? How might technology help you do what you care most about even better?”
The heart of great classrooms has always been caring, passionate adults asking compelling questions that motivate students to deeply understand important skills and ideas. But we also believe that it is increasingly difficult to prepare young people for a digital world without letting them rehearse in mobile, online spaces. We believe that learning to work with new information is essential, and it is impossible to think about learning to work with diverse sources of information without asking students to learn how to efficiently navigate the internet.
11 coding resources for the Hour of Code
Computer science skills are becoming more and more important to success in today’s economy, and this importance is highlighted during the annual Hour of Code. A number of resources on Code.org and other sites can help students of all ages and skill levels develop coding skills.
The Hour of Code, which can occur at any time during Computer Science Education Week (Dec. x-x), is a one-hour coding activity during which students choose from self-guided tutorials that work on browsers, smartphones, tablets, or even work without computers at all.
Last year, more than 15 million students in 170 countries participated in the Hour of Code, and Code.org hopes to get 100 million students coding during this year’s Computer Science Education Week. In fact, more girls tried computer science in those seven days than in the entire 70 years prior to the event, said Kiki Prottsman, executive director of Thinkersmith, during an edWeb webinar highlighting Hour of Code coding resources and activities. http://home.edweb.net/part-hour-code/
“Computer science is the way the world is going—it’s the new literacy,” she said. “Not only does it teach you have to program the machines we’re using today, it also teaches you a whole different set of problem-solving skills.”
Fewer schools teach computer science now than 10 years ago, though, despite the prediction that more than half of new jobs (60 percent) in all of the sciences will be computing jobs. Bringing computer science education to younger grades will help combat the common middle school mentality that students view themselves as “no good” at coding.
Time of often a challenge, Prottsman said, which is why the Hour of Code can help—it’s just an hour, and there are a number of resources available to help students jump right in and start coding.
PBS launches math series for kids in ‘Odd Squad’
Consider this math problem: PBS leaves the train station headed west under a full head of steam to find a new series to teach math to youngsters. Tim McKeon and Adam Peltzman leave a train station at top speed headed east with an idea for a show that features an agency run by kids who use math to deal with oddities in their home town.
What is the sum when they meet?
The answer can be seen Wednesday, Nov. 26, when "Odd Squad" joins the PBS morning lineup. The quirky live-action series follows two young government agents who use math skills and collaboration to investigate weird and unusual phenomena.
McKeon, who sidesteps a question about his own math abilities when he was younger, explains the primary factor that went into making the show was to teach that math doesn't have to be boring.
"I feel like I have become quite passionate about math. A lot of people say math is boring but there are really exciting and funny ways to teach math," McKeon says.
The solution was to focus on strong storytelling, something McKeon and Peltzman have done in past shows such as "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends," "The Backyardigans," "Wallykazam," "The Electric Company" and "Adventure Time."
In one episode of "Odd Squad," the team helps a local basketball team that has a problem with the number 13. Along with talking about addition, the story ends with a member of the team getting to live out wish.
Making the show starts with a long list of math topics that include addition, subtraction, temperature, time and basic geometry. There's also a list of crazy and odd things. Items on the two lists are matched up to become an episode.
Sometimes the matches are easy, such as using the efforts to capture a Blob as a way to teach liquid measurements. An idea about how the adults in town spontaneously break into song took a little longer to find a math match. The answer was a story about patterns.
When McKeon and Peltzman first pitched the idea for the show, they were asked if it could be animated. The simple answer is yes. But McKeon is certain the show is better as a live-action production.
"I love animation. You can draw anything. But, to have something odd happen isn't so spectacular because it's like you could just draw it," McKeon says. "To actually have the odd thing happen in a real world, it just sort of pops a lot more, and it's just more interesting."
The world they've created is a place where kids run the show, often coming to the aid of adults, and are equal and not judged by race or sex or financial status.
Teach your students the right way to Google
As in decades past, proper research methods are an essential skill for today’s students. At a time when most students (and adults, for that matter) are accustomed to heading straight to Google to answer all of their questions, being able to sagely sift through the good, the bad, and the ugly of search results is key to creating independent 21st century thinkers.
However, even when used properly, Google is not always the right resource. On its website, the Kentucky Virtual Library provides a detailed, student-friendly interactive map of the research process, called “How To Do Research,” which spells out the steps for making the most of the research process, from planning to searching to taking notes and ultimately using gathered information effectively. Many educators like the map because it doesn’t focus exclusively on web research, but instead provides a broader list of tools—think library catalogs and reputable magazines—that can be just as helpful for students.
Learn how to search
Print resources undoubtedly still have a place at the table, but it would be futile to deny that the ability to locate and evaluate online sources is an equally valuable skill. Do your students know how to find and refine effective search terms? Do they know how to filter results using advanced search options? To that end, Google’s Search Education site offers a plethora of beginner, intermediate, and advanced search lesson plans related to picking the right terms, understanding results, narrowing a search, searching for evidence for research tasks, and evaluating the credibility of sources.
In addition to the Search Education Lessons, Google also offers a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) titled: “Power Searching with Google.” (The course is taught by Dan Russell, a senior research scientist at Google, who is also the man behind SearchResearch, a blog about all things search and research). If you have limited time, you may find the Power Searching Quick Reference useful, and the explainer video emporium Common Craft also offers a short video on web search strategies, which students might find easy to digest.