Early years and foundation stage teachers do a great deal to embed the basics of numeracy. The importance of getting to grips with place values is a fundamental skill and this app provides a format for just that.
There is one main screen from which you are presented with a selection of cards in four columns with each card representing a number within the place value it belongs to. A voice reads out a number at random as well as displaying the written number for you to construct using the place value cards. It is expected that you first pick out the cards and connect them to their place value and join them together to represent the number in full. Once a number has been constructed successfully there is immediate feedback and a tick appears as the cards move back into their columns. Another number is generated for you to repeat the process again.
This process of learning place values is proven to be successful and as the app name suggests it is based on the Montessori style of education. The tablet format lends itself to providing freedom for young students to learn at their own pace. Along with this, the learning is fully dependent on the student being active and engaging in the content.
Once the app is opened a simple tutorial appears explaining how to use the app. This can be accessed again from the main screen by tapping on the ‘help’ box. The other added features can also all be accessed from the main screen. In ‘Settings’ the number of place values can be varied from 1 up to a maximum of 4 providing for a range of abilities and progression. ‘Zeroes’ can be toggled on and off which will again allow for more difficulty to stretch and challenge some students. Another interesting option is to alter the text of the number displayed so it is written in a cursive style. This variation overlaps nicely to reinforce literacy skills, something that is not always considered with most numeracy apps.
The correct place values are selected in such a way that they are presented as a common addition sum. The student then solves the sum by dragging the values onto the answer line. There are two version for the student to try depending on the orientation of the tablet; vertical addition for landscape mode and horizontal addition for portrait mode.
Teachers or parents have the ability to see how their learner has developed by accessing the ‘History’ of all the attempts to answer. By tapping on the ‘History’ box a window will appear with a list of the attempts indicating if the student has been successful or just skipped through. It is simple enough to clear the list at any time although once the app is closed down it doesn’t retain this record.
‘Place Value’ is a very simplistic app; it is basic and there are no themes of any kind. It has been four years since the app has seen an update and it is starting to show its age. The standard of educational apps has accelerated in this time with common features such as individual student profiles for personalised learning, targets and achievement stars to motivate learning, teacher logins to see class progression to name but a few. The underlining concept of the app is promising, however, it is relatively expensive and based on a theme with such a wide variety of healthier competition.