Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2012
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Drill math skills with basic, customizable chalkboard-style app

Subjects & skills
  • Math

  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (5 Reviews)

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Pros: Many customization options include choosing the type of problems, range of numbers, and multiple-choice vs. fill-in-the-blank answers.

Cons: Some kids may find the chalkboard-style interface boring, or the countdown timer frustrating.

Bottom Line: It's a solid practice tool for kids who don't need fancy visuals.

The variety of settings makes it possible to use this app for a handful of different levels and operations. Kids can get into groups and try to beat each others' scores, or you can award stickers after five minutes of quizzing. The saved scores make it easy to keep an eye on how kids are doing, and not everyone has to play at the same level.

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MathBoard is a basic math practice tool that includes many customization options. A portion of the screen is devoted to a scratchboard, where kids can write numbers or draw representations of objects to help them solve problems. If they're stuck, they can choose to get a step-by-step explanation of how to solve the problem. Some of the customizable options include number limits, equation types, and whether tests should have a time limit. You can establish the quiz parameters by setting the options according to a kid's current math level. Parameters include operator types (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, squares, cubes, and square root); number of problems, problem style, and answer style; number range; equation types (from simple to single-step algebraic); digit limit; time; and more. The app then generates individualized quizzes. Kids also have access to quick reference tables for basic math functions. Results can be saved for each student and then emailed.

The encouraging "ding!" that alerts a student that he or she answered the question correctly is counterbalanced by a rather annoying and startling "buzz!" that accompanies incorrect answers. Luckily, these sound effects can be turned off. Individual quiz generation and a built-in adjustment to incorrect answers, coupled with the ability to save results for each student, make this a very smart math tool.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
The chalkboard-style interface may not strike kids as flashy, but they may find the ability to write numbers or draw marks to represent counting with different chalk colors fun and helpful for completing the problems.
Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Through repeated practice, kids can get some depth, and the app is responsive, letting kids know when they've gotten an answer wrong or right.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
Math tables on the app can be helpful to kids when completing homework. A solid user manual can be downloaded for free, but only on iTunes.

Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 5 reviews) (5 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Michelle S. , Special education instructor
Special education instructor
Los Angeles County Office of Education
Downey, United States
Alternative for traditional paper and pencil rote math practice
I give this app an overall 3 stars. It is merely complicated alternative to traditional paper and pencil rote math practice. I agree students can never get enough practice with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, so I considered using this app to engage students. In addition, while my students needed additional practice, rather than direct instruction, they were all at different levels of ability. This app was an easy answer for creating levels of activity quickly. In app settings allow you to manipulate which operations are being practiced, as well as selecting skill level (easy to difficult). You can also manipulate the number range and equation types. Changing equation types was the one feature that sets this app apart from many of the other rote math apps out there. Users can select simple one step algebraic equations with one variable. Other than that, I found this app very complicated for the limits of use. While I wanted to give practice on large range numbers for addition and subtraction, I was not able to select a different range for multiplication and division. Either practice has to be individualized to one operation at a time, or one skill level and range at a time. This doesn't make it any different than other rote apps available in the market. The appearance is easy to look at (green chalkboard). Students can take a practice quiz or play a game of concentration. The game of concentration is very difficult, even set at the easiest setting. It includes all operations and ranges of numbers. Students have to solve problems such as 364/52 and match it with the answer all while being timed for speed. My students began randomly guessing rather than solving the problems just to beat the clock. They still get a perfect score at then end and submit their time. Unfortunately, this app fell short in too many areas and was far too complicated for me to utilize for the purpose intended. Sometimes paper and pencil does have its advantages.
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