Appp media UG’s newest addition, Understanding Math - Times Tables: Learn to fluently multiply and divide within 100, is probably one of the best apps I have ever seen on teaching the concepts of multiplication and division. Everything about this app’s construction was well thought out and researched. Based on Jerome Bruner’s developmental learning theory of the three modes of representation, the student must be an active (enactive) participant in learning, and the reward of learning must be intrinsically motivated. Loosely translated; a child will not assimilate the material if he/she is not interested or the teaching does not present a relevant or fun challenge. This app uses mathematical symbols (iconic) as a representation of the second mode of representation, and allows the material to be universally understood and appealing. Use of the symbols in equations then becomes a language (symbolic), the third mode. The symbolic mode helps in retaining the information by giving a communicative reference point in which to share information. The modes are not necessarily sequential, but are continuously evolving and refined. Have you ever had a WOW moment in the middle of doing something, and see something in a totally new light? The ability to program or customize target numbers and levels of difficulty is easy to do on the fly, and there are an unlimited number of students that you can track and keep data in the four different learning categories. This is an invaluable aid in targeting specific strategies in teaching or helping an individual child. Data is localized to your iPad, and is not collected by outside sources, social media, or websites. As a Mom’s With Apps member, appp media UG takes privacy seriously. Each of the units is aligned with Common Core Standards.
Gameplay progressively engages the senses to help keep kids focused, help retain the material, and includes use of multi-touch and writing recognition capabilities. It is directly experiential, and not a game where one can passively watch or guess. Doing is part of the learning, in both body and mind. The app consists of six separate mini units:
· The Hundred Board
· A Toolbox Hundred Board for open experimentation
· A Multiplication unit
· A Division unit
· “Training” involving real time challenged play by writing the solutions directly on the screen
· A Duel to challenge peers
Let’s have a closer look at each module, and see why this app is so spectacular.
By pulling down the sheet, and matching the numbers, you can arrive at the answer poised on top. Here, commutative properties come into play and focus, meaning 6x5=5x6. I love the attention to detail with the layout and execution of the board. The board itself is brightly colored with a dark background, bringing the board itself forward and into view. The click, click click as you scroll down the board, registers with the rhythm and space of numbers as a dynamic and present force, and helps calibrate motor, vision and hearing. It is like navigating through open space and then going into a crowded room. There is a different feel and rhythm to each space.
The Toolbox Hundred Board
The Toolbox board operates in the same manner as the Hundred Board, but is meant for open play and experimentation. Here pulling the sheet down or across gives you both multiplication and division equations equaling to what you have “drawn” for immediate feedback. Little by little, the experimentation and play give you rote practice with retaining basic multiplication and division facts through a number of pathways.
By tapping on the screen, students solve the answer to the equation on top. For example using the equation 3x3, students have to tap three fingers three times on the screen. Under the equation, an addition equation 3+3+3 is displayed with each tap to reinforce what exactly is 3x3. After the problem is solved, tapping on all the objects one by one, gives a pleasant tonal sound as they pop. This is so addicting, and gives direct feedback into the body of what the product feels like. Tap tap tap = 3x1….using double fingers tap tap, tap tap, tap tap is six. Kids are awarded stars for correct answers and are able to receive new visuals when reaching the next level. As you progress, the visuals change, from balls to drums etc.
Division as the partner to multiplication starts with a number that students must divide or separate into boxes. If they know the answer you are free to write it on the boxes, or separate in multiples by using more than one finger to progress. Learning to see possibilities of counting in multiples really helps to define and organize space. After answering 200 correct answers, division with remainders are said to be introduced. (Haven’t gotten there yet!)
In training mode, solve the answer to the problem at the top of the page by writing it on the screen below. Equations have the option to be written in a couple of styles, and you can tailor the times tables or focus to any particular number or units. Sometimes the writing recognition software doesn’t always register your input, but accuracy greatly improved with use of a stylus.
A lot like training, but meant for two players. This is the game to strut your stuff, and show what you know by playing against an opponent. You can grade the difficulty to each player’s capabilities to equalize (whoops – pun!) the playing field. It’s great to pair partners of different capabilities and then watch the younger ones rise to the challenge, and really improve their skills.
· An ingenious multisensory approach to learning multiplication and division
· Beautifully rendered graphics and sound that both pop and keep the focus on learning
· Because the activities are experiential rather than direct drilling of facts, kids have more investment in learning the material and learning is laid out through several different means and pathways.
· Aligned with Common Core Standards
· Teacher’s manual included under the question mark on the home page
· Ability to tailor a specific learning tract for multiple users and keep data on each user
· Great support from the developer, your feedback is welcomed and encouraged
I highly recommend this app, and feel it should be in every teacher’s toolbox when teaching multiplication and division. We are so lucky to be living in an age where sharing teaching strategies are on a global level. So many lives will be enriched, from resources such as Understanding Math - Times Tables: Learn to fluently multiply and divide within 100.
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years, and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play everyday; so that "her kids" grow up to be healthy independent learners.