I'm going to use my first math app that I developed, 5 Dice: Order of Operations Game (which is free), as an example but I think any app could be introduced in this way.
Education is constantly evolving. In addition, as technology advances, it is incorporated into many systems for educating students. Specifically, gaming applications are becoming more popular on the Apple platform such as iPods, iPads, and iPhones. Due to its popularity, many educators are including these types of applications into their lesson plans. Some applications create a great way for students to engage themselves in learning on their own, which helps educators inside as well as outside the classroom.
Math games more than any other type of teaching style puts students in the right mindset for learning: eager to learn more, relaxed, focused, and willing to go through repetition. These four factors are critical in learning new concepts.
The best way to introduce math apps to students is to demo it while teaching a lesson. By making it a seamless part of your lesson or review, students will easily grasp how to use it. Since this application is viewed as a game, rather than a worksheet, it is relatively simple to encourage students to use it. In most cases, all it takes is the student to see the instructor or someone else using it and having fun with it. If introduced in this way, students will typically ask to use the application on their own.
For educators, integrating 5 Dice into their lesson plans is not very difficult. In order to use this in a classroom setting, the following materials are needed: One iPad with a method of displaying the screen to the class (eg. AppleTV or HDMI cable with adapter), paper, and writing instruments. While the application is on display in front of the class, perform a simple walk through by creating a new player and selecting a level. It is also important to inform the students that they may even input the teachers e-mail addresses to send their scores outside of the application; however, it is optional and not required.
Once 5 Dice has been introduced to the entire class, play a few games to incite their interest, have students recommend different operations to try while you manipulate the iPad for all to see. After a few games, it is time to re engage the students by asking them to solve equations on the screen on their paper.
Now display a new question and have the students do a few questions individually on paper. Challenge them to see if they can find more than one answer, and who can find the most creative answer. Before entering in a number sentence into the app have students pair and share their answers with a partner. Have the partner check to see if its correct. Now ask "who was really impressed with their partners number sentence?" Select one person from this group to input the answer into the iPad to check the answer. If correct, (the app will check) try and get a explanation from the student why he did it that way, what was he thinking. I also like to make sure that everyone writes down this correct number sentence and its breakdown in their notes.
After doing these two activities (teacher demo & individual paper work) have a discussion on their thinking also use this time to review the rules of the order of operations.
After playing for a while ask students "what strategies do they use in finding solutions?" Come up with a list of strategies. What we're trying to do is to get the students to begin to think about their thinking. I like asking "why" a lot, to encourage the students to examine and to think deeper about their strategies.
I like having students write their strategy on a sticky note and then have students stick their strategy on the board. Then organize similar suggestions together, have a recorder write down all the strategies to be shared with the class.
At the end of the lesson, it is important to follow up with empowering or challenging questions to have the students understand what they have just learned. Creating an engaging atmosphere and critical/analytical thinking is crucial to long term memorization of any content within a lesson.
When the lesson is over, the students should be encouraged to use the application at home during their personal time for fun. The students who use the application are more likely to excel in mastering this concept. Not only does it serve as an introduction tool, it will prolong their education outside of the classroom and place learning in their own hands.
Let me know how you introduce new math apps to your students in the comments below.
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