Teacher Feature: Ali Ghassemi’s Top 11 iPad Math Apps (NFSB, Nova)

February 5, 2013

Ali Ghassemi teaches Sec. 1-5 Math at Nova Career Education Centre, which is part of the New Frontiers School Board in Châteauguay, Quebec. This school year, Ali’s centre acquired a set iPads. As soon as Ali got his hands on an iPad, he began to pour over hundreds of different math apps in an attempt to find new approaches to help his students succeed in greater numbers.

Ali recently presented alongside Tracy Rosen (Resource Teacher at NFSB) at the QPAT 2012 teacher’s conference and demonstrated 11 of his favorite Math apps. If you’d like to learn more about their session about increasing student engagement with iPads, I’d highly encourage you take a look at Tracy’s detailed blog post from her education focused blog, Leading from the Heart. Without any further ado, here are Ali’s top 11 apps sorted by category:

Educreation: Record math lessons on screen. View hundreds of various lessons from other teachers.

Converter: Easily convert units from one to another.

Algebra Touch: Rearrange, slide, and tap variables to solve equations.
Tritutor: Shows how to solve quadratic equations, step-by-step.
Ace High School Math: Step-by-step math videos (needs internet connection)
Polynomials by HUP: Helps students work with polynomials through video.
Math Quadsolve: Solves quadratic equations.

Mathgraph: A graphing application for the iPad.
Winipossible Geometry Tutor: Videos to help students with geometry.
Unit Circle Helps students understand triangles and how they relate to trigonometry.

General Math:
Math Aptitude: 1500 Math questions with step-by-step solutions.

(Source: Tracy Rosen, resource teacher at Nova Career Centre. Be sure to check out Tracy’s blog at http://leadingfromtheheart.org. Also thanks to Ali Ghassemi, math teacher at Nova Career Centre.)

ICT Tip: Instacalc allows your students to generate their own “real life” equations

November 13, 2012

This ICT tip could be applied to the following subjects:

Link: www.instacalc.com

Quick overview: An on-line tool that helps students calculate different variables using plain English terms. Students can create their own calculators to generate real life equations and then share the calculators with the other students using a unique link.

How can it be used in the classroom? If you believe in the “See one, Do one, Teach One” philosophy towards learning, ask your students (ideally in groups of two) to come up with a calculator that calculates something interesting to them. Provide them with a challenge to come up with a working calculator that calculates something they would encounter in their every day life or an interesting statistic they’d like to demonstrate. The goal is to get them to create something that makes the math more relevant and share the results. Can another student validate if their classmate’s calculator is working properly? If so, what math did they use to do it?

How could they use the tool? Students could go on the Internet and collect raw data or statistics. Next, which of these variables do they need to plug in from their data to come up with a working calculator? Please follow this link to see a feature tour of what’s possible with this tool.

Consider this: What is “schoolisyzation”?

December 6, 2011

This post could be best applied to the following subjects:


Quick overview: Did you ever come across a school problem, especially in math, that uses a real-life context, but still didn’t make any sense?

What is this about? In this 6-minute video presentation, my colleague Marc-André Lalande presents his thoughts on the subject of “schoolisyzation” and how he thinks technology can help us improve our pedagogical practices. (Source: Marc-André Lalande, RECIT FGA Pedagogical Consultant, via r.u.aware blog)

Feedback: Comments? We really want to hear what you have to say! Please feel free to leave your comments on our blog with the “leave a comment” link below this post. Also, if YouTube is blocked in your school, you can view Marc-André’s original SlideRocket presentation from his r.u.aware blog...

Mobile Monday: Algebra Touch – rearrange, slide, and tap numbers and operations to solve problems

October 10, 2011

This ICT tip is for the mobile devices category:

Info: Algebra Touch for iPad (HD) and iPod touch.

Cost: 2.99$ (or free demo available)

Quick overview: An app that allows math students to use their fingers to move around variables in order to solve an algebra problem. Elegant, minimal, visual, beautifully simple. I really wish I had this back in high school!

How can it be used my classroom? This app could be useful for students struggling with the traditional approach to learning algebra. Students use the app to drag and rearrange single-variable polynomials so that like terms are together for easier adding. Students can tap the operator between the terms to compute answers. Terms can be factored or combined until the variable is isolated. Students or teachers can also create their own problems to rearrange and solve.

What do students think? A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to use this app with students in an Adult Ed classroom (thank you Mr. Robert More!) and it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. One student commented that the app was like a game at first, but she needed to figure out the rules (i.e. order of operations) in order to solve the equations. Walking around the classroom, we quickly noticed that the students started downloading it (and paying for it!) on their own iPods and iPhones. A picture is worth a thousand words, but we had 31 “thumbs-up” from the a classroom of 31 students at the end of the day!  If you’d like to try this in your own Quebec FGA classroom, please let us know!

Video Tutorial: For a demonstration of how the app works, click the video below:

(Source: Certain parts of the “How can it be used in the classroom” description have been quoted/paraphrased from the Common Sense Media website. Due to YouTube being blocked in many of our schools, the demonstration video has been re-packaged from the Algebra Touch YouTube channel)

ICT Tip: A huge collection of easy-to-follow interactive math and science examples

March 17, 2009

This ICT tip could be applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview: A huge collection of visually interactive on-line math and physical science concepts. Concise and to the point, each example can be used to illustrate potentially complicated topics to your students in the classroom. The content on Daniel Mentrard’s website (http://tinyurl.com/6odcbl) is well organized, interactive, straightforward, and great for visual learners.

What does it do? Daniel Mentrard’s website contains over a thousand interactive math and physical science examples that he created with the Geogebra software and then placed on-line to share with others. However, this amazing web resource does not require you to install any special software to use with your students – it can be accessed just like any other web page! Most of the interactive examples on his site contain “sliders” that can be moved into different positions (representing different values) to dynamically change the equations on the computer screen. Below is an animated sample of a teacher demonstrating a “Slope and Intercepts” example using this type of technique:


How can it be used in the classroom: Instead of using a traditional blackboard to teach your students, you would use a computer connected to a digital projector (or Interactive White Board) in your classroom. Specific examples can also be shared with students who are weak in one area and need extra curricular study aids.

Important Notes: The math and science examples on this site were created by Daniel Mentrard, a teacher from France. As this is the case, all the examples on the site are written only in French. However, most of the math and science concepts can easily translate to an English language math or science classroom. On a technical note, if you happen to receive a “Java error” when opening examples on the site, please contact me by e-mail for assistance. The above animated sample image has been linked from the Math 247 PB Wiki site.


ICT Tip: World Clock “odometers” of world statistics (births, deaths, consumption, etc..)

February 19, 2009

This ICT tip could be applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview: The World Clock website (http://tinyurl.com/5bqgdx) provides “odometers” of world statistics. This site is similar to the Worldometers website that I highlighted in an earlier ICT Blog posting, however, the World Clock site allows students to change between daily, monthly, or yearly world statistics. It also offers a different set of statistics.

What does it do? The World Clock website allows your students to see “real time” world statistics updated every second. This includes statistics such as births, deaths, consumption, etc.

How can it be used in the classroom? This site can be used to stimulate a real life discussion in regards to statistics in a math class or a math Learning Situation. It can also be used as a source of inspiration in a language class to bring up a discussion on environmental awareness or carbon footprints.


ICT Tip: Using GeoGebra to construct dynamic geometry, algebra, and calculus equations

January 15, 2009

This ICT tip could be applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview:GeoGebra (http://www.geogebra.org/cms) is a mathematics software designed for education. It helps teachers or students construct dynamic geometry, algebra, and calculus equations.GeoGebra works great for visual learners who may otherwise have difficulty following along in a math or science class with more traditional teaching approaches. It’s free too!

What does it do?Instead of using a traditional blackboard to teach your students, you would bring a computer connected to a digital projector into your classroom. GeoGebra then allows you to perform constructions with points, vectors, segments, lines, conic sections as well as functions and change them dynamically afterwards.In addition, equations and coordinates can be entered directly. GeoGebra has the ability to deal with variables for numbers, vectors and points, finds derivatives and integrals of functions and offers commands like Root or Extremum.

How can it be used in the classroom? Using GeoGebra, you could create interactive equations and then dynamically change them in front of your students.For example, using GeoGebra you could demonstrate how to construct a right angle triangle.Once the triangle is constructed, you could then dynamically change the relationship between the points.This is accomplished by either entering in different numerical values on the keyboard or moving the points with the mouse along the axes.Modifying these values will immediately cause the triangle to change.Furthermore, you can save any of your GeoGebra examples as a file to use again later in another class or provide printed or electronic copies (see example) for your students to study from.


Additional Resources: If you’d like to get started with tutorials of how to use GeoGebra in your own classroom, I highly recommend you visit the “Math 247 GeoGebra” page at geogebrawiki.wikispaces.com

Advanced ICT tip: If you are a math or science teacher already using an Interactive Whiteboard (i.e – SMARTBoard) in your classroom, you or your students can take things to a whole new level with GeoGebra.Using GeoGebra on your Interactive Whiteboard will allow you or your students to touch and manipulate the visual math equations with their hands!

Source: Sections of the “Quick overview” and “What does it do?” definitions in this ICT suggestion have been paraphrased from the GeoGebra website.


ICT Tip: Real-life budgeting activities for a math class

August 7, 2008

This ICT tip could be applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview: Budgeting and savings activities for a “real-life” situation in a math class.

How can this be used in the classroom? If you are looking for a “real-life” situation activity in your math class (or hoping to kick start a Learning Situation) then I may have a useful and easy to use ICT suggestion. Using the Vancity HomeBudget Analysis website (www.tinyurl.com/vancity-homebudget) your students can input their expenses and income and obtain a visual breakdown of all their expenses. For students not currently working, it can also be used to compare potential jobs with different salaries compared to their current expenses, as seen in the screen caputre below:

Anything more? For teachers who want to take things one step further, you may also want to visit the MyCalculators.com “Savings-Investment Calculator” (http://tinyurl.com/6sx68m) website with your students. Using this calculator, your students can see how much of a return they’ll get from depositing regular contributions into their savings account. Variables can be changed such as intrest rate, years to invest, or the frequency of contributions. I should note that while I find this page isn’t very flashy, it gets the point across well. It can be used if you wish to cover more in-depth topics on savings and investments.

ICT Tip: WebMath – A math calculator with a twist!

August 7, 2008

This ICT tip could be applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview: A website that contains a variety of math calculators which provides a detailed explanation of how each problem was solved.

What does it do? At first glance, the WebMath site may only appear (http://www.webmath.com) to be on-line calculator for different types of math problems. However, the WebMath site does not simply solve equations and spit out an answer… With WebMath, you or your students can punch in any variables you’d like, and then the site will explain how it solved the problem with a VERY detailed explanation. Definitely worth checking out!

How can it be used in the classroom? Weaker students can use this ICT application to punch in different math problems and then get an explanation how the problem is solved. It may help them work through the problems that you may have covered in class but had difficulty following along.

ICT Tip: Creating dynamic graphs in Excel

July 1, 2008

This ICT tip could be applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview: A tutorial on how to create graphs in Excel.

How can it be used in the classroom? Using Excel, your students can easily create a graph that will dynamically change with different variables. Great for visual learners, easy to setup.

Video Tutorial: If you’d like to know how to create your own Excel graphs, please click the play button below:


ICT Tip: Worldometers – World statistics updated every second

June 19, 2008

This ICT tip could be applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview: A website that provides “odometers” of real time world statistics.

What does it do? The Worldometers (www.worldometers.info) website allows your students to see “real time” world statistics updated every second. This includes statistics such as births, deaths, food consumption, etc.

How can it be used in the classroom? This site can be used in conjunction with student projects on carbon footprints or mathematical statistics. It can also be used as a source of inspiration in a language class to bring up a discussion on environmental awareness. (Source: Vince Jansen (LEARN) Cool Tools Duel workshop)

ICT Tip: Google Docs – Collaboration in your classroom!

May 22, 2008

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

What does it do? Google Docs (http://docs.google.com) is a website application that works pretty much the same as the Microsoft Office applications that you are likely familiar with, such as Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. Although that’s not all it does, keep reading..

How can it be used in the classroom? Unlike Microsoft Office, the real strength of Google Docs is that multiple students can work collaboratively on one single document, whether it be a word processing document, spreadsheet, or presentation. With only one centralized document to work from, there are no conflicting revisions when working on a group project. Students also don’t have to physically be in the same place to work together. To clarify things further, here’s an easy to understand “Common Craft” video explaining the many advantages of Google Docs:

Note: If the above video does not play, then please click on this link.

Advacned ICT Tip: Google Docs allows you to export documents as Word (.DOC) PowerPoint file (.PPT) or Excel (.XLS) so that the end result can be opened up in a Microsoft Office application.

Important Note: A Gmail account (free) is required to use the Google Docs service. The address to sign up for gmail is http://www.gmail.com

ICT Tip: Manipulative Math, Utah State University

May 22, 2008

This ICT tip could be applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview: The Manipulative Math site (http://nlvm.usu.edu) contains many interactive “hands-on” math activities.

How can it be used in the classroom? When I was out visiting the Western Quebec Career Centre to provide an ICT workshop in May 2008, I picked up some great Math ICT resources from Judith Miller, one of the WQSB math teachers. Judith explained that while there are many ICT math resources out there, this particular resource (Manipulative Math, Utah State University) is popular in her Adult Ed classroom and provides a hands-on experience with her students. (Source: Judith Miller, Western Quebec School Board)

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