Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Free Apps I Use in the Math Classroom

There are SO many great ways to use iPads in the classroom. However, it can be a little overwhelming! Last year was my first year using iPads in math class. I tried a lot and learned a lot along the way. One big lesson I learned is that there are many math "games" out there that aren't much more than digital flashcards. In addition, many are timed which I think adds a lot of stress and not much in the way of getting students to think mathematically. Read Tracy Zager's criteria for fact-based apps.

If you are new to iPads, or just looking for some new apps, wanted to share some of my favorites. Many of the best apps I found are free!

First, if you teach middle school or high school, you NEED Desmos. Download it now and read more about Sara's love of Desmos. Although the activities aren't through the app, also take some time to check out the activities at teacher.desmos.com.

Next, check out ClassKick. You create assignments, kids work, you see their work while they are working, you give feedback in real time. Probably the most used app in my classroom!

A great app to use for students' reflections is Recap. You pose a question and students can quickly make a short video. Great to use as an exit slip!

Manipulatives on the iPad can be great. A few from the "Math Learning Center" are pretty good. Check out "Number Line," "Number Pieces," and "Pattern Shapes." "Solve Me Mobiles" is maybe more puzzle, but it's an awesome way for students to reason visually algebraic problems. The interactive "Geoboard" is awesome and no need to buy rubber bands (or have to watch rubber bands go flying across the room!).  I used "Virtual Manipulatives" a LOT with my 6th graders last year because it has interactive fraction bars, perfect for all the fraction standards in 6th grade. While I didn't use "Think 3D Free" and "Undecided" much, I think they are worth a look. "CountingBoard" is an interactive 100's chart, perfect for looking for patterns.

Finally, I love downloading puzzle type games because they are fun but also encourage spatial reasoning, problem solving, or critical thinking. Check out Folt, Cargo-Bot, Sumaze!, and CrossFingers.

If you use other apps that you love, be sure to let me know in the comments!


  1. Hello Annie!

    My name is Andrew, and I am a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying math education! When I saw this blog post, I immediately saw Desmos, and I had a flashback on my previous spring semester where we used Desmos to come up with an activity that we could use in our math classes. Some of us came up with different graphing activities that involved sliding marbles on graphs to get them to roll into stars, while others had to match graphs by manipulating equations. It was a great activity that opened our eyes to integrating technology in mathematics!

    I was interested in the different apps that you posted, and so I looked on Classkick and Recap. I've never heard of these, and when I went on the website, I was surprised by the great ideas that were made through these apps. These apps are a great means of formative assessment in the math classroom, and it is a lot different than the traditional formative assessments. I'm curious though, since these would require technological access among all of your students. How would you use these apps for students in low socioeconomic schools if students didn't have much access to them? Great apps!!

    1. Hi Andrew!
      You bring up good points. While there are a lot of districts that are introducing technology, there are many that don't have tech as a resource. I am actually in a school district that is considered "low-income" but we have 1:1 iPads!

      If a district doesn't have 1:1, they may have 1:2, carts, or even a computer lab. All of these could be used with many of the resources I shared. While these are all apps, Desmos, ClassKick, and Recap can also be accessed from laptops or even desktop computers. :)