Harnessing the competitive and social instincts of children to drive their interest and engagement with mathematics, Math Friendzy gives children a chance to develop their skills alongside their class mates, even when they are not together.
For teachers and parents this app offers a chance to monitor and reward children’s efforts. Essentially worksheet based, the challenges within the app are self-marking and it offers easy links to tuition too.
This app is very much based on each user, be they parent, teacher or child having an account. While it is possible to play the app purely as a guest many of its features will be limited this way. All types of users benefit immensely from having this account. Children get to compete against other children all over the world in mathematics challenges,parents can see their child’s performance and teachers get the tools to easily administer and support their student’s homework to achieve their ultimate goal of a better education experience.
For children, this app’s key focus is on practise and facilitating the social and collaborative learning of mathematics. Using its built in annotation tools, children can work on problems contained within the app, or even those set by teachers from other sources, before entering answers with the built in keypad. Teachers can use favourite worksheets and problems to photograph in and set for children as homework. Children’s working out and solutions can be viewed and assessed by teachers and, crucially, children can share this amongst themselves to provide peer supported learning. Using this feature is something of a compromise between freedom of expression and legibility as fingertip writing on a screen is not a particularly natural skill for some children, but, with care, most tasks can be accomplished. The tuition element of the app is less fleshed out than the other sections but does provide easy links to Khan Academy for children to fill in gaps in their knowledge.
In the Single and Multi-Friendzy options children are given the freedom to revel in their mathematical skills as they take on the challenges from others around the world. Communication is restricted, to maintain safety, but, for example, players can receive challenges from other children in different countries via a push notification system, prompting them to engage with numeracy when they may otherwise not have considered it. Challenges can also be restricted to children in a student’s class, and here they can send short messages, as well as compete at selected areas of mathematics.
For teachers these features are all wrapped up in an effective administration system that lessens their workload by providing an easy to manage homework setting system. From within this teachers can set tasks based on the app’s included questions, of which there is a vast array, or their own. It is easy to differentiate homework tasks between children in a class.
Teachers can be assured that children will get the homework, and know about it, as a push notification lets them see it has been issued. This homework will be instantly marked and the results made available for the teacher who can then check understanding, and if children have used the freehand function, their working out and notes. Of course, with the results being contained within the app, collating data and tracking student progress is simplicity itself and teachers can access many useful reports on their students’ homework.
There is a strong international flavour to this app as shown by the flags next to the children taking part in mathematical challenges. The curriculum that this app uses as its foundation is the Common Core State Standards one used across much of the USA, so those teachers outside of this country will have to put in some extra work to map it to their children’s needs.
This app succeeds very well in bringing the Math-Friendzy experience to tablets. If its social, competitive and administration features seem a good fit with your children, it is well worth checking out.
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