iTooch Apps by EduPad – A Mosaic Review

So another review we’ve been working on is for iTooch.  For other reviewer’s opinions, please click here.

iTooch is by Edupad.  They actually have quite a few apps on a variety of subjects and levels.  Here are just two of the five screen shots I could have taken from the app store:

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The program also comes in Windows 8 and Android.  Actually, as I was reading some of the reviews, it sounded like the Android versions were actually a little better in a few ways.  I’ll try to mention those as I do this review.  Again, please see the other reviews if you want to consider which system to use these on.

So if you want to do high school math or French or 5th grade language arts, you can.  THere is also a program called Recess for playing.  I really enjoyed playing that one, actually.  There are two games.  On one, it calls out a color and you tap that color bubble.  If you miss though (the bubbles are moving!), you’ll end up with another bubble, another color, which will mean it takes you more time to clear the screen which is the goal.  The other recess game is a math game.  It gives you an equation and you have to fill in the missing digit and operation.  Here is a screen shot of each game:

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So my daughter is 7 so I had her try out the Elementary program and we downloaded the 3rd grade math and language arts trials.  There were lots of options though: image_8

So my daughter liked the program in general.  It is appealing visually.  The “little dude” is fun. From reviews, it seems he is even more fun on an Android device. My fave “little dude” was when he turns to stone because you’ve sat there so long.  However, the moment you move the iPad, he isn’t stone again so I couldn’t get a screen shot!

The app gives positive feedback along the way.  The biggest issue I had with it for my daughter (who was getting irritated about it) was that the student has to actually choose to go from practice mode to the evaluation mode.  Obviously, not all 7 year olds or 9 year olds know when that time should be.  Additionally, the test questions were exactly the same as the practice questions.  The only difference was that you couldn’t look back at the lesson and that there were a limited number of test questions.  Now, this is one area it seems is not the same on the Android version.  Another reviewer talked about it moving the student from practice to testing.  

Here are some screen shots to give more information:

This one is during the test.  As you can see, there are only going to be six questions total.  It is timed (the yellow bar on the side).  There is positive feedback when you get it correct

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This shot shows a positive response during the practice mode.  On the side, it looks like there is a limited number of questions. However, you can keep doing them forever.  Unfortunately, my 7yo did!
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Here is a a screen when you make a mistake.  It tells you the right answer.  It is nice and low key which is nice for younger students.

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The below is a lesson screen.  The student can come to this screen any time during the practice session to go over the lesson.  image_3

The following two screens are just of me playing with the work space.  Again, not intuitive for a young student and actually unnecessary on the part she was working on (language arts).  However, if you needed to do double digit multiplication or were learning how to do basic multiplication, needing graphics, this page is a nice way to work.  Have I mentioned that I love that the blackboard looks used instead of perfectly black?
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Lastly, there is the evaluation screen.  I like that it is color-coded.  If the circle is not yet colored in, it means the student hasn’t taken the test on it yet.  If it is orange (or is it red?), it means the student scored a B- or lower.  Green is B+ or better.  A yellow star is for 100%.

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So this gives you an idea of what the app is like.  I think with a little direction, most 6-9 yos could do it without getting too frustrated.  And an older child probably would have been just fine with the less intuitive parts anyway.  I do like that the Android version seems to have automatic evaluations though as well as even more cute graphic activity.  

I give these apps a thumbs up.  If you’re looking for a cute, fun, educational app, you might look at the iTooch apps by Edupad 🙂

 

 

 

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Math Mammoth – Mosaic Review

So I’m a math person.  I love math.  I enjoy math.  I find math exciting.  I find math relaxing even.  I like math.  My first two kiddos were math people also.  One could see the math of a rain storm. My daughter learned multiplication when we ran out of toilet paper so used paper towels.  She was 3 at the time.  She was multiplying fractions with an 8th grader I was tutoring.  She completed all of another curriculum’s 3rd through 6th grades in 4 months at almost seven.  She used my mother’s college algebra book at 7 and graduated high school a year late (at 16) with Calculus II and Statistics under her belt though I believe in using multiple math programs, not just one.   The other actually struggled with algorithms initially because he could just see math.  At four, he was doing pre-algebra programs. We’re just math people.

But I adopted three who aren’t mathy people.  There is no pulling out word problems for fun or teaching a little brother how to do FOIL.  In fact, it seems that K-3 math is really going to make us sweat.

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Enter Math Mammoth.  Now, full disclosure, we already own and use (in our own way), the full Math Mammoth Light Blue program for grades 1-6.  So for this review, I decided to get the Blue Series, Math Mammoth’s math topics curriculum.

For my review, I received the following:

  • Introduction to Fractions
  • Early Geometry
  • Measuring 1
  • Place Value 2

Let me start by saying how incredibly affordable these books are.  The most expensive book I saw on their site is only $7.50.  The Place Value 2 is only $2.25!  (***Note:  The prices are raising by 5% this month).  So if there is an area you need to supplement or focus on for whatever reason, the price is definitely right!

Second, I like that there are so many different activities.  There are hands on activities, ones where they have to continue along a line of thought, ones where they need to think about real life objects to figure out a concept.

One important part for less mathy kids is PLENTY of practice.  Of course, sometimes that is good for mathy kids also.  For example, when *I* was a child, I would have loved doing one problem after another.  But my daughter would have hated doing so much.  So she could have skipped some.  But my “new kids” (adopted in July 2012) need more practice so do most problems in each set.

I also like the scaffolding.  The fractions book is a good example. There are dots to guide the child.  There are directions to tell them exactly how to do it a certain way.  Questions lead them from what they’ve already told them to another part they were previously told.  For example, a question may say, “Divide this into fourths. Color 1/4.” Then it will ask how many little squares in 1/4 as well as how many little squares in the whole rectangle. They start small (1/4 or 1/2) then go to bigger numerators (3/4, 7/12, etc).  Then they move to the number line and later word problems.  Slow and steady, the student moves from super easy to much more challenging.

Another thing I really like is that my children had fun with the materials from day one.  One of the first things we did was the beginning of Measuring 1.  They went through the house measuring things with various objects.  In the below picture, they used their big brother’s shoes and their little foster brother’s shoes (seen by my daughter’s feet).  That really made units real to them!

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But let me say that my favorite part was how my children were able to run with the information.  I’ve been fussing with my daughter for over a year about Place Value.  She simply could not grasp it for whatever reason.  Though we haven’t finished the materials, she has been able to extrapolate further (at least able to know what questions to ask which is huge!) and to USE the information she has.  It isn’t just memorized information, but she truly has the concepts.

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One Minute Reader iPad App – A Mosaic Review

So when I read the interest form for this iPad app, I was very excited.  My young six year old can decode when he takes the time; but he’s not a confident reader.  He also is very sensitive about me working with him, afraid of my disapproval or disappointment.  The app, however, keeps each part very short (a minute, hence the name!) and sweet.  He gets stars, points, and can see the progress he makes in various ways.  PERFECT.

Which app?  It is One Minute Reader, the iPad App.  Here is the screen shot I took of the app store from my iPad (mini).

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One Minute Reader is an iPad app based on Read Naturally’s proven reading program.  There are six levels: emergent, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.   As you can see on the screen shot above, there is a free version also.  From it, you can have your child take the placement test so you know which levels of the program to use with each child.  Each book of the program has five stories.   You can get a full level, five books, for $19.99.

So what does One Minute Reader do?

First, it develops fluency by allowing the student to hear fluent reading at a pace reasonable for the child.  Second, it allows the student to practice repeated reading with the material.  Additionally, the app works on vocabulary and reading comprehension.  And finally, the app gives the student visual feedback throughout.

Let me walk you through some of what my children practiced.

First, you open to the main screen and choose a story.  There, the child does a “cold reading.”  They’ve never seen the materials before and read.  Below, you can see Swimmer clicking start to start his cold reading. At the end of one minute, the student is directed to click the last word he read. The first time Swimmer did it, he got 12 words which is, of course, very low.  Again, I believe that is more because of his confidence level rather than his reading ability.  This is even more reason, in my opinion, why Swimmer needs to be doing programs like this one!   Anyway, regardless of the child’s words per minute, they get points added to their score for having done the work.  Swimmer liked earning points!

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Okay, so after the cold reading, the child goes to the next screen.  There, he has two activities to do, both of which earns him more points.  He can get definitions of certain words and he can have the material read to him.  At first, Swimmer had a bit of trouble listening to the reading; but in time, he learned that doing so helped him progress.  It may take a story or two for the child to get the point!

After the child listens to the story a few times as well as goes through the vocabulary, it is time for him to try to read again.  Each time he reads, again, he earns more points.  Additionally, at the bottom of the page, there is a section where it shows him his words per minute. When he is happy with his score or ready to move on, he can push the arrow at the bottom of the screen to get to this page which shows where he started and where he finished this session:

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After this screen, the child goes to a screen that has comprehension questions.  Here he also gains both points and letters towards the “Joke Jumble.”  The next screen also has a crossword puzzle to work on (it includes questions from all of the stories).

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What I like most about this app is that each session can be as long or short as you want it to be.  If it isn’t a good practice time, you can do just a minute or two.  If it is a great time, then you could spend 10 minutes or so on it.

I also love how it gives the child lots of feedback in terms of points, stars, progress words per minute, and the like.  It is very motivating.

Of course, the part that makes the difference the most is the child’s confidence and reading ability.  As I listened to my son read some of the stories, I was just amazed!  Not only did he read the words correctly and at a nice pace, he also did so with inflection.  For example, with Big Ben, he read, “So what is Big Ben?” stressing the word “is” as well as making it clear it was a question.

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Sadly, I have to say there is one negative about the program.  As we all know, kids sometimes rush through things when allowed to just play with things.  Honestly, practicing reading as play would be a good thing in my book even if it is just a section or two done once or twice.  However, with the One Minute Reading iPad App, once children get to the comprehension questions, they cannot go back to have the material read to them or for them to do another timed reading.  And once you’re done with the section altogether (past the crossword puzzle, you can only get the score information unless you delete the previous data and do it over again).  Now, I think it is fine to restart the reading from scratch.  I just think it would be nice to be able to continue on the same reading regardless of whether you have completed it or partially did it through the comprehension questions in the past.

There is just one thing I’d like to add to this app if I could.  I would love if they would have a version that we could add our own readings in, ideally including the vocabulary and reading comprehension also.  If they had a version for us to do that, I’d buy it in a heartbeat as I really believe it could be awesome for our religion’s “school.” I would recommend it to all the other parents in our congregation!  But I think other people would like it also.  They could put segments of their reading assignments into it, do it based on interests, or even do it with readings for various subjects (history, music, science, etc).

I will definitely be rating this app well!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we have! To see more reviews, click here.

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