Review by Galen McQuillen, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2016
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Math Vocabulary Cards, by the Math Learning Center

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Math flash cards useful for students of all ages, if a bit boring

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • College & Career Prep

Subjects
  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Pre-K-10
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Easy controls, plus lots of concepts across the K–5 standards, with multiple representations, examples, and definitions for each.

Cons: 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.

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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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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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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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

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?

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?

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.


Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Susan K. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Help Students Develop Understanding of Key Math Terms

Vocabulary development is crucial in any content area. Since I teach second grade, my students have a huge vocabulary load in mathematics, particularly geometry. It's great to have a tool to help with vocabulary development and review, especially one of quality with mathematical accuracy. As stand-alone practice, the engagement piece is weaker than one might like. However, for the purpose of instructional support (it is part of the Bridges 2 math program, but it will work with any program), the Math Vocabulary Cards app by Math Learning Center is a solid teaching tool.

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