App review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2012
Algebra Touch
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Algebra Touch

Nice twist to learn equation steps, not answers

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Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 2 reviews
Privacy rating
Not yet rated Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
6–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Math, Critical Thinking

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5 images

Pros: Students get encouraging words at each step.

Cons: You can't track how students are progressing, or if they're progressing at all.

Bottom Line: Algebra Touch breaks equations down into steps and describes them with such basic language that math-challenged students should improve.

Using Algebra Touch on their own, students should learn the basic steps of algebraic equations. But the app can also reinforce skills such as following visual directions, applying information students have learned in class, and identifying strengths and weaknesses in their understanding of algebra subtopics. One bonus is that teachers can use the app as an instructional tool in lessons for the entire class via AppleTV. A downside is that you can't track students' progress, so unless you're watching them work through the lessons, you can't tell who's catching on and who might need more help.

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For students new to algebra, or any teen struggling to understand the concept, Algebra Touch teaches the basics step by step. They'll learn addition, variables, basic equations, negatives, and more, with a total of 20 topics.

Most lessons build on each other, and many appear to assume students know little to nothing about what's being presented, which is helpful: Each step is explained in the simplest of terms. Overall, Algebra Touch is an innovative way for students to practice algebra and build concepts, and a remarkably stress-free way to learn.

First, students choose a lesson. Then, a basic problem related to that lesson appears with a written explanation. Along with the written explanation comes an instruction ("Tap the +") telling kids what to do to make the answer appear. Kids then start the lesson, but they aren't expected to enter the final answer. Rather, they tap the steps involved, and then the app gives the answer. Talk about stress-free! At every step kids hear, "Very good!", "Wonderful!", or "Good job!" If they tap incorrectly, the image simply wiggles, encouraging them to try again. When they choose correctly, the next step appears, and finally kids arrive at the answer.

Lessons can be simple. In one addition lesson, kids drag and rearrange single-variable polynomials so like terms are together for easier adding. Practice problems -- which students can save -- are built into the lessons, too, and users can add more.

We might suggest more detailed instruction for new or pre-algebra students, as well as more complex levels for advanced students, but for most teens, this should help them improve understanding and provide that unicorn in math: positive reinforcement.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

In this positive, low-stress algebra intro, kids get encouraging words at each step of an equation and access problems in many ways. The screen only wiggles at wrong answers, so kids are encouraged to try again. 

 

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Critical-thinking skills will help kids clarify what's happening and reflect on how each step will, or won't, lead to the right answer.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

The user interface lists lessons in order of difficulty and provides clear direction. It's so well-organized, you don't need a tutorial.


Common Sense reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Elisabeth A. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Cosumnes River Elementary School
Sloughhouse, United States
Algebra concepts made easy.
Algebra Touch remains one of my favorite applications. I really like the kinesthetic component of dragging numbers across the screen and clicking on operators to decompose or combine numbers. Problems can be solved very quickly, but the student should still practice the concept on paper, demonstrating a clear understanding of the step-by-step process. It's possible for a student to advance through more difficult problems simply by dragging a number to any location that triggers a partial or complete sol ...
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