“Make sure you line up your place values.” This is a phrase I utter over and over in the classroom and write on countless papers. For some kids, it just takes a little practice to remember this step. However for others, practice will not make perfect, it won’t even make “consistent.” That is because so many of our students suffer from Dysgraphia (a learning disability that affects writing), Dyslexia (specific learning disabilities in reading), or some other disability which makes writing difficult for them. But there is an app out there that is finally helping to level the playing field… and it is FREE!
ModMath is a free app on iTunes that is effective because it eliminates the need for students to write out their math equations longhand. In other words, it allows them to circumvent the most difficult part of the process for them, writing the numbers neatly on their paper. ModMath works so well because it allows students to use the touch screen and/or on-screen keypad to set up and solve math problems.
Having worked with children with special needs for years, I know the reaction many people will have – “Well how is that going to help them if they cannot do it on pen and paper?” My answer is always this: What is your learning objective? Is it to get your students to write neatly? Or is it to teach them to solve a math equation correctly? See the thing is, we still need to reinforce the longhand written form of solving the problem for these children, that much is clear. However, it would be a huge disservice to our students if we let them get stuck at this stage simply because their hand-writing and fine-motor skills haven’t developed far enough for them. Think of this app then not as a permanent solution, but as a scaffold to help your students move along learning the math that they are capable of solving, rather than making them frustrated, upset, and stuck at a level much lower than their true potential.
A Simple Overview Of ModMath
- Works as a virtual piece of graph paper that allows the students to set up math problems in a grid format that is easily legible for them. In fact, graph paper was what my student’s were using before I found this app.
- Students can independently solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fraction and equation problems, using the touchpad and never having to put a pencil to paper!
- Once completed they can then print out their work pages to turn into their teachers, or they can also e-mail them directly to their teachers.
- The ModMath app is free on the iTunes store, however, it is only available for iPads.
- It has a very simple interface, that requires only a little modeling and practice.
- The setting allow you to display bright text on dark backgrounds, allowing the numbers to be read more easily for students with dyslexia.
Take a quick look at the app being used with a 3rd grade student:
Read more on their website: ModMath
According to brain based research, the brain responds to novelty. In fact, the brain is built to ignore the old and focus on the new. As educators we can use this research to our advantage by creating lessons and activities that are centered around “novelty” to excite and engage our students. One very easy and effective way I have found to do this is through the use of QR codes in the classroom.
QR Codes Explained
QR (abbreviation for Quick Response) is a two-dimensional bar code that you can easily create online. The QR Code can be embedded with information (text, video, image, website url, email address, contact details.. etc.) that when scanned by a suitable QR code reader, can be easily accessed. In other words, when you scan it, you will receive data quickly in return. When first starting out with QR Codes each year, I use a great video from Common Craft that makes the whole concept very easy to understand. Click here to view it!
Using QR Codes for an Easter Egg Hunt
QR Codes in the Classroom
I have used QR codes in the past few years in many different ways in my classroom. From the most simple – self-checking of answers, to a more complex QR Code Hunt, each lesson has always been a hit with my students. The best part is that it is so easy to create QR codes that you can be off and running your own lessons in no time. Below are some ideas of activities/lessons to begin using QR Codes in your classroom.
- Self-checking math worksheets
- Tiered lessons (each group is assigned a QR color and walks around the room, scanning and answering the questions assigned to their groups color)
- Getting kids to a website quickly – Display QR code on board and students don’t have to type in the long url, just scan and go!
- Scavenger Hunt – students walk around scanning various QR Codes, guiding them to visit a variety of websites to gather information on a topic.
- Book Reviews – students create QR Codes that link to text and paste inside the cover of the book. The text is a book review or recommendation that the students write, for future students who might be interested in reading the book.
- Enhance or Extend Information in a Text – Place QR codes in texts, that links to more useful information (videos, kid friendly websites).
- Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt – so much fun!
- Make displays/ bulletins interactive – link to your class blog or digital portfolios
- Add for homework help – I use QR codes that link up to ShowMe or Educreation videos I (or the students) have created while introducing new content, so the students can review them at home if needed.
- Kinesthetic Reading Adventure – use QR Codes to create your very own “choose your own adventure story.”
- Share contact information with Parents
- Show exemplars
- Incentives and Praise – Students are rewarded prizes by scanning a code that leads them to an animation or badge.
- Learning Stations
- Provide Extension Activities – I use iXL for math in my classroom, so I will often link my students to the section we are working on in class for further practice. This would work in any subject though.
Most User-Friendly Sites
QR Stuff – Easy to use and allows you to choose a color option for your QR Code.
Kaywa – Another simple to use generator!