Basic Algebra Tutor
Nine detailed step-by-step lessons with facilities to test and develop understanding alongside supportive feedback, make this an effective app for children beginning to learn about algebra. Detailed reports make it useful for teachers and parents to monitor progress.
In many ways, this app is like a well-paced teach yourself algebra book, but one that gives instant feedback and support as progress is made. A little patience on first opening the app may be required as it is slow to open, but once in use it does its job well.
There is a lot of explanatory text in this app regarding its actual use. It gives an explanation for parents, teachers and students. This is very detailed and should you have any uncertainty in how to use the app, it is certain to be in the appropriate section. It can be a little intimidating, however, as it is so lengthy and paragraph breaks are used so rarely.
Fortunately, in the lessons themselves the app beaks down the teaching points much more effectively. As it takes students through the different concepts, a clear and concise explanation is revealed one short paragraph at a time. Understanding of the tuition is checked with relevant and appropriately complex questions.
Each lesson gives an appraisal of the student’s performance. This takes into account how fluently the answers within the lesson were given. Children can take multiple attempts at each question, as when they get it wrong a helpful direction is given, but this will be reflected in the results at the end. This is a good method. Children can gain support while they are uncertain and teachers and parents can see when they have progressed to a secure understanding.
The reporting of progress is a definite strength of this app as it does so clearly and in both broad terms and with a narrow focus. Colour coded diagrams show general progression, but individual questions and the given answers can also be inspected. This latter facility is especially useful as students can show where they are uncertain and get parental or teacher support.
In addition to the lessons, children can test their algebra skills in other ways. There are a random question option and a math game where children’s answers influence the speed of a car in a race. As well as the statistics, there are rewards of different backgrounds and diamonds.
Interacting with the app is very straightforward as it uses its own built-in keypad. The options on this are tailored to match the question being answered so that the student can concentrate on learning the maths and not the app.
Everything about the app is clear, easily readable and straightforward to use. Some may feel that it looks a little plain in comparison to other apps and, indeed, it is. Many will not find this to be a negative as it keeps distractions to a minimum and lets the app be used across a wider age range. Gifted younger children will be happy to use the app as much as struggling older children will.
As well as allowing children to learn independently and to practise algebra with support, teachers may find this to be a useful teaching tool. With the screen mirrored to a class display, the lessons, including their test elements, would make excellent teaching aids for use at the front of a class.
As a fully self-contained app, with no in-app purchases required to work all of the way through it, this is a good value app that is well recommended for students beginning to learn about algebra.
From the Developer
- 40 dynamic questions, each of which covers a slightly different aspect of
- Feedback given for wrong answers to help the user know what to do in
order to give the correct answer
- Comprehensive progress tracking
- 21 different statistics relating to what the user has done are kept track
of, in addition to the Progress Chart
- Includes Algebra Racer game with hi score table
- Diamonds awarded for significant achievements, the first five of which
unlock an attractive background for the user’s home screen
- All feedback is retained and can be reviewed later
- Emphasis on questions the user is having difficulty with
- Hall of Fame for users who have achieved Total Completion
- Create an unlimited number of different users
- Comprehensive instructions provided as a reference
- Suitable for use in both homes and classrooms
- Discount on bulk purchases for schools
- Separate areas for parents and for teachers to monitor usage and
progress, view information about the app and the questions and change
- Created by a former teacher with 18 years’ experience
- Supports retina display
The 40 dynamic questions are divided between 9 lessons:
Lesson 1 – Introduction to Simplifying
Lesson 2 – Simplifying algebraic expressions
Lesson 3 – Simplifying algebraic expressions by collecting like terms
Lesson 4 – Writing simple expressions
Lesson 5 – Writing more expressions
Lesson 6 – More Simplifying
Lesson 7 – Substituting into an expression
Lesson 8 – Powers
Lesson 9 – Multiplying expressions
Topics are introduced in the lessons through the use of text (which is presented in small chunks and can also be skipped) and multiple-choice questions. Stars are awarded when correct answers are given for all of the questions in a lesson. Feedback is given for wrong answers, and the user can then have another go at the question. After three wrong answers have been given the user can either continue attempting the question, or can reveal the answer together with an explanation. Lessons can be done at any time and in any order. They can of course be re-done, and one of the aims the user has is to answer all of the questions in each lesson correctly and at the first attempt.
The Progress Chart shows which questions the user can do and which ones they are having difficulty with. Questions can be selected on the Progress Chart and practised. If the question is red then the “Focus” button appears rather than the “Practise” button, and this enables the user to practise the question until it turns green.
“Question Focus” enables the user to see all the feedback they have been given for individual questions. If the question is either red or orange on the Progress Chart they can practise it until it turns green.
“Feedback” enables the user to go through all of the questions they have answered, in reverse order, and see the feedback they have been given. This feedback can also be accessed (as well as the Progress Chart) via the Parent and Teacher areas.
“Random Questions” enables the user to simply answer questions chosen randomly from the 40 dynamic questions contained in the app. The highest number of correct answers given in a single go, and the highest number of correct answers given in a row at Random Questions is kept track of.
When the user has turned all of the squares on their Progress Chart green they start the next Round with a new Progress Chart. The percentage completed refers to how close the user is to turning all of the squares on their Progress Chart green in the current Round. Total Completion of Basic Algebra Tutor is represented by completing the Final Test of Mastery (in which all of the 40 questions must be answered without getting any of them wrong). The Final Test of Mastery is unlocked when the user has been awarded five diamonds, and when it is completed the user takes their place in the Basic Algebra Tutor Hall of Fame.