A few weeks ago, Em Smith Headley, 1st grade teacher, asked if I could help with their math standards using the iPads. They have been working on using a variety of strategies to solve basic addition and subtraction problems.
I pulled together just a few iPad apps for our time together that addressed basic addition and subtraction facts. I decided to use:
- Fetch Lunch Rush: an augmented reality app that combines basic addition/subtraction, missing addends, racing, and augmented reality!
- Math Zombies: a racing app that gives basic addition/subtraction problems along with double digit math to race against the ever-approaching zombies. Correct answers knock them out of the way.
- Candy Count: a sorting app that allows kids to sort candy by color and then asks several math questions about the candy in each bag.
- iXL: an app with multiple grade levels which gives standard problems and allows kids to type an answer.
I had student helpers make a 1st grade math folder on the iPads so that students could easily get to the apps. We looked at the standard and students brainstormed several strategies that they currently use for solving math problems. Things such as:
- number lines
- draw a picture
- count up or count back
I reminded them that these same strategies come into play when we do math digitally and sometimes the app even provides some strategies for you with hints. I did not tell students how to play every app because they were perfectly capable of figuring that out on their own. I spent my time helping students think about strategy and encouraging students to help one another figure out the technical details of how the games worked. Of course, I helped students who had technical questions, too, but that wasn’t my main focus as the teacher.
Students were bursting with energy during this. Whether we worked for 25 minutes or 40 minutes, they were extremely focused. They were free to move in and out of the apps as needed. We were also able to differentiate for students who needed problems that were more challenging or problems with more basic features.
At the close, students gave some feedback on what they liked about each app. Math Zombies and Fetch Lunch Rush was by far the favorite, and they begged to get to do this again in their classroom or the library.