Guest Post by Myf Powell
What makes these apps stand out is the way they support the development of mathematical thinking, not just drill and practice, that really blurs the boundaries between learning and leisure.
When I taught maths in secondary, students would groan at the mention of fractions, decimals and percentages. We would try and come up with all sorts of practical activities to help students conceptualise fractions and understand their equivalence with percentages and decimals, lots of glue, paper and scissors. How I wish I’d had access to this app.
Motion Math – Fractions! helps with estimation and equivalence of five different forms of fractions; numerator over denominator, percentages, decimals, number line and pie charts in an entertaining and challenging game. It works best if you have a Windows 8 device with an accelerometer so you can tilt the screen, but you could also use the arrow keys.
The idea is to tilt your device so that the bouncing ball hits the number line at the point indicated on the ball. The ball might have a conventional fraction, a decimal or a pie chart, you have to visualise the fraction on a number line and bounce the ball on that spot. It starts out easy enough with quarters, halves and thirds, but it becomes increasingly challenging as you progress through the levels. You have to think quickly and if you miss, rather than just being right or wrong a series of scaffolded hints increasingly guide you to the correct position.
On the face of it, this app looks deceptively simple. Your fish eats bubbles, but only when they equal the number on his side. You use touch (or a mouse/track pad) to drag the bubbles together to make the total, fish eats the bubble and grows larger.
In this example, you are trying to make a total of 10, so we have to drag together the different combinations, 5+5, 1+9 and 10 for the hungry fish to eat. The physical act of dragging the bubbles together reinforces the mental processes.
A colleague’s son, aged 9, will happily spend 40 minutes ‘playing’, as he sees it, improving his agility with mental arithmetic without really realising it. Motion Math: Hungry Fish includes two addition levels, two subtraction and two negative levels, each with 18 difficulties. It’s fun and provides an intuitive way to visualize addition. At the lower levels it’s appropriate for primary, but it can challenge secondary as well, introducing more combinations including negative numbers.
Try the screen below, how quickly can you scan the options and come up with a total of 24? There are several false leads, so you have to mentally run through the possible combinations against the clock and whilst the bubbles are constantly moving. Another example with negative numbers, find a combination that gives a total of 11. Not trivial is it?
Both these apps require Windows 8.1 and run on a tablet or PC. Unfortunately they are not compatible yet with Surface RT devices. At the time of writing these apps are chargeable, $2.99 for Fractions and $3.99 for Hungry Fish but good value for money considering the quality of the mathematical thinking behind them. Don’t be put off by the lack of reviews and ratings, these have just been released in Australia, they currently have a 4.5/5 rating from the US store.
Check out more Windows 8 Apps at our Pinterest Page.
Did you know that you can now purchase Windows Store Gift Cards? A great way to add apps to machines in your school.
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