Thanks to some inspiration on Twitter from Jessica Hirsch (@jhirschcusd), I thought it would be a neat idea to have my 4th grade gifted students try to create Makey Makey Operation games with shapes. (They are on a Geometry unit in their regular classrooms, so this seemed like a good time to try it.) As my classroom once again became a Disaster Zone Lab of Innovative Thinkers, I realized that I pretty much go through the same thought process every time we embark on these adventures. I tried to make a visual of it, which you can see below. I ran out of space at the end, so don’t assume that these things always end on a high note…
I don’t often recommend paid apps on this blog. One reason is that they are difficult for many educators to obtain for their classroom, as I outlined in yesterday’s post. Another reason is that I feel that many of the paid apps have features that can be found in other free apps. However, every once in awhile, I run across a paid app that I think is unique and worth sharing.
DragonBox Elements, like the Algebra apps, is designed to teach math “secretly.” The Elements version teaches Geometry (I think they should change the name, as “Elements” made me think that it was a science app), and is aimed at students from 9-11.
The app accommodates up to 4 different players (individually, not at the same time), and has three levels of difficulty. As advertised, it slowly guides you through basic geometric concepts by playing a game. After learning to identify different types of triangles and quadrilaterals, the player begins to “prove” geometric characters into existence. For example, if one is given a triangle that shows two congruent angles, then there must be two congruent sides – making it an isosceles triangle.
None of the concepts are explicitly taught. My daughter, who is 11, had the main complaint that she didn’t feel that she was learning anything. However, when I asked her to explain her actions on a level, she basically gave me the steps of a geometric proof.
Like DragonBox Algebra, DragonBox Elements is a good app to recommend to parents who want to give their children an entertaining, educational app. I think it definitely helps if there is an adult who can ask some guiding questions to aid the child in verbalizing what he or she has learned.