Common Sense Review
Updated January 2016

Math Vocabulary Cards, by the Math Learning Center

Math flash cards useful for students of all ages, if a bit boring
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 3
  • Right away, the app helpfully tells you where to go.
  • Grade K–2 subjects range from common comparisons through somewhat sophisticated vocabulary.
  • Grade 3–5 subjects are actually pretty useful for students in much later grades.
  • The interface shows three parts: a definition, an example, and the math term.
  • Users can choose which panes are revealed with each new term.
  • Some of the terms are less math concepts and more testing language, which can be helpful.
  • Examples often show multiple representations, which is great for learning.
  • The English-Spanish toggle can also turn the app into a bilingual math dictionary.
  • A tutorial section clearly explains all the app's features.
  • Cards are randomized every time you choose a new set, so reset your selections if you want to shuffle the same set.
Easy controls, plus lots of concepts across the K–5 standards, with multiple representations, examples, and definitions for each.
No-frills, institutional interface lacks a clear shuffle option, and there's no progress counter or checklist to monitor mastery.
Bottom Line
For concept review at any age, this is a nice prepackaged option, but it doesn't leverage the technology's strength to improve learning outcomes.
Galen McQuillen
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

As flash card apps go, this certainly isn't the flashiest or the most exciting, but it's clearly designed and nicely illustrated. There are plenty of topics and vocabulary to keep things fresh. ​

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Flash cards aren't the best -- or the worst -- way to learn vocabulary. This version adds illustrated examples, often with multiple representations to give much-needed context to the concepts, and that's a great learning strategy.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

In many ways, this is a reference app, so it's mostly designed to support your normal classroom activities. There's a built-in tutorial for the app's functions, but a checklist or progress counter would be nice.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Try structuring your lesson like this: Start with a discovery activity where students can really get their hands dirty with a new mathematical concept, add in some formal scaffolding where you introduce the official vocabulary words and definitions, work through some guided practice, and then introduce Math Vocabulary Cards to hammer those terms in. Without a lot of practical familiarity, this app isn't going to help much.

Math Vocabulary Cards could also be a great choice as part of a summative assessment review. Let your students use it at home or during in-class review time before a big exam (especially any state testing, given that the decks include plenty of standardized test-specific language) in addition to their usual review problem sets or projects. It would also be good to use at the beginning of units that require lots of prior knowledge, especially for older students. 

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What's It Like?

Math Vocabulary Cards is a flash card app that covers math words and concepts for all math Common Core State Standards from kindergarten through fifth grade. Users choose which deck or combination of decks to use, broken up by grade (K–2 and 3–5) and subject, and cards are then randomly displayed. Each card has three sections: the word, the definition, and illustrated examples to demonstrate the concept. These panes can be toggled as shown or hidden with each new card, so players can start with any combination of the three revealed.

Simple forward/back controls allow the user to navigate the cards, with options to jump to the beginning or end of the deck. To reshuffle cards, users must unselect the chosen decks and then reselect them. The cards can be shown in English or Spanish on the fly, with one tap, making it into a bilingual glossary at the touch of a button.

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Is It Good For Learning?

The absolute best way to learn specialized vocabulary words is to use them in practice, because context is what glues words to meaning in the brain. Assuming you're already working to do that in the classroom, Math Vocabulary Cards is an excellent choice for review or support. Compared to more traditional flash cards that only have the word and the definition, this version adds illustrated examples to bridge that gap between word and meaning, and it does so quite well. The examples often include multiple representations of the word, which leads to larger learning gains than a single representation, according to current research.

For words that students haven't seen in context, Math Vocabulary Cards won't do much, even with the great illustrations. It may be very useful for review, but it's not a good learning tool for introducing new concepts.

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See how teachers are using Math Vocabulary Cards, by the Math Learning Center