Snow Day Math App

I have a love/hate relationship with math. I cannot do mental math to SAVE MY LIFE. Being a bartender in a ski resort during apres was a nightmare for me. I just never solidified basics in my head. On paper, however, I can kill it. Ironically, my mom has her PhD in Math. Go figure. I had to take my Calculus 2 final exam verbally with my professor in his office because I could explain it and do it step by step, yet somehow when I went to paper, I couldn’t do it. I would get messed up in all the little basics that by the time I reached an answer, I was way off. Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 11.24.11 AM

This brings me to an absolutely AMAZING app called Snow Day Math by Beth Stade, who works at CU Boulder and also for many small grants. She is one of those people who gets math and knows that everyone else can get math if they just know the fundamentals. This is one of the coolest apps out there. (no pun intended with the snow…cool…get it?)

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Snow Day Math helps you learn place value, something that many kids (and adults) struggle with. The app allows you to touch the numbers, stack them, pull them apart and repel. The app is not set as a game, there’s not right or wrong, which is imperative for those who have had a bad experience with math and feel incompetent. As you move the numbers, you notice that you can’t add numbers that add up to more than ten on top of each other without splitting them to first reach the decade and then add the rest. Same with 100. I’m not the most eloquent with math terms, so I’m sure I’ve messed up already (sorry math aficionados).

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We piloted the app with first graders last year, and with some we scaffolded it and had them use real counters next to their iPads while with others we just let them “figure it out.” We also worked with students to have them verbally share their explanations of why they could add certain numbers and not others. Beth worked with second graders this year for her research and came up with incredible findings on how kids were able to use the app in their head to help answer tough problems. Another amazing finding was that without introducing subtraction, students were able to immediately transfer their understandings from addition to subtraction when using the app. Amazing.

Puffins…not Penguins

Not supporting Flash is one of the main downfalls of the iPad (I could list MANY, but I’ll keep it cool). A few years ago I had tested out the free Rover App, which crashed incessantly. I then found this sad looking Puffin.

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Puffin, although still a bit buggy at the time, allowed students to use Raz Kids and watch flash animations on Discovery Education and National Geographic Education sites. It took up a lot of bandwidth, which was an issue for us back then, but it worked. The dark side was that it cost $3.99, which for one iPad is fine, but I manage 200+ iPads. I thought it was worth it, and luckily so did my boss. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve used it personally to watch Broncos games online (shhhh).

And then I read a post by +Dan Gallagher who mentioned using the Puffin Academy App, which was free.

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Same sad little Puffin, but this time, revamped. The Puffin Academy app is a curated space for educational sites, and it is restricted. When you try and go to YouTube, it says “No Result!”…which also means if I tried to watch my Broncos games, it would have the same response. Phooey.

Why is Puffin Academy so great for education? For starters, it’s FREE. Thank you, CloudMosa, Inc. Second, educational publishers or content providers have to apply and be approved before being curated. That means that no icky sites can appear, so in theory, if your district is controlling over allowing Safarai or YouTube on iPads, this could be a fantastic alternative. You could Restrict Safari, but still be able to access educational websites AND be able to view flash animations.

Who knew this sad little Puffin face could bring so much joy?