Smart Apps For Android: Review: Multiplication by Daydream Education is a great supplement to a multiplication curriculum

Friday, April 11, 2014

Review: Multiplication by Daydream Education is a great supplement to a multiplication curriculum






Bottom Line: This app is good for educators (including homeschoolers) to supplement a multiplication curriculum. It’s not a game format, and there is a lot of text that isn't read aloud by the iPad. But the information presented is solid and provides a nice alternative to flashcard-style apps for multiplication practice. At $1.99, the price is reasonable given the amont of data collection available.

Price: $1.99                 Size: 49MB
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M1Get it on Google Play

Multiplication by Daydream Education is a different sort of mathematics app. It doesn’t simply drill multiplication facts, and there’s no motivating game to keep kids playing. Instead, it provides basic instruction and interactive practice on multiplication for upper elementary students, perfect for classroom use.

In today’s U.S. educational system, even kids in kindergarten start learning about multiplication, though they don’t necessarily know it; understanding repeated addition is a foundational skill for multiplication. This app, though, is not designed for these young students. There’s no recommended age range, but because of the heavy text presentation with limited audio, to use the app independently the child should be a proficient reader. I would like a read aloud option provided for more of the app, to make it more accessible for a variety of learners.

The app provides content similiar to an interactive PowerPoint, starting with a basic introduction to multiplication. This introduction is all text, with a few interactive elements to help explain repeated addtion. The vocabulary is definitely geared toward older students, defining mulitplication as "the process of scaling one number by another," before continuing on with the process.

M2After scrolling down for this initial screen, the user can access the main menu again, or simply flick the screen to scroll through each section, just like in a PowerPoint. Each section (multiplication chart, times tables, useful tips for multiplying and more) includes text and a few interactive elements.

The interactive multiplication chart is fun, and a good way to teach kids how to use a multiplication chart. The user taps a number on both the horizontal and vertical edges to see the product highlighted in the chart. There's even one more level of practice, where a problem is presented with the chart below it. After identifying the product by tapping it on the chart, the answer is provided by tapping "check."

The times tables section was also fun, first showing the times tables from 1-12, followed by a quiz. Select each set individually or test all facts at once. Within each individual times table quiz, the user can also select random or in order. The only feedback is two different sounds, one for correct and one for incorrect. An incorrect problem cannot be attempted again within these quizzes.

M3Multiplication also teaches how to complete long multiplication problems, using both the traditional method and the grid (box) method. These sections both include a short presentation showing how to use each method, followed by practice problems. However, in this section the practice problems simply involve a chalkboard style screen where the user can write out a problem. It's not possible to flip back to the tutorial screen to refer to the method. The quiz section provides a better structure for learning how to implement each method.

I love the data collection on this app. Be sure to set up every student user with their own name, because the data is very useful. It tracks the performance on the times table quizzes, the number of problems solved on long division (including which method was used), performance on the quizzes, as well as completion of a missing numbers fact.

While the app starts out with teaching the basic concept of multiplication and the commutative property, it doesn’t continue with enough depth of explanation to meet my preferences. After the early screens, the emphasis of the whole app is learning the times tables and memorizing algorithms to complete more complex math problems.

M4I have nothing against algorithms — I use them often, and think that kids need to learn them. However, simply memorizing an algorithm isn’t enough. It was a powerful day for me when, at age 30 when doing math with my obsessed four year old, I learned why that standard algorithm works. Sure, I’d memorized what to do, but I didn’t really ever take the time to understand why. That kind of explanation is missing from most parts of this app.

There was a small section in “useful tips for multiplying” that was very helpful to a true understanding of math. It teaches the prerequisite skill for using the grid method, understanding how to break down bigger numbers to easily multiply, but it's not clearly applied to understanding the overall concept. And even in this section, the app instructs to add the total zeros to the end (which is accurate), without really explaining why that works.

M5There was only one small issue in this app for me, aside from my desire for the app to include more explanation. First, the method to regroup numbers in the traditional long-division problems quiz is not standard notation in the United States. Instead of carrying a number up to the column, it’s filled in at the bottom. This was confusing to me, and may be difficulty for a younger student or student with special needs to understand. I'm assuming this is the standard method used in other countries, but teachers in the U.S. will want to take note.

Overall, I enjoyed this app, and my 10-year-old son will enjoy practicing his math facts (when I make him practice). He wouldn’t likely choose it on his own, but in a classroom setting this app is a nice way to monitor true mastery of multiplication facts and algorithms. Combine it with a curriculum that helps kids learn the underlying reasons why algorithms work, and this app is worth a download.

This review was originally posted on Smart Apps For Kids

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Heather H. liked math all the way through school, until she got to calculus. Her current math calculations show her that she's going to get far less sleep tonight than she should.




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