Virtual Learning Amid School Closures for Corona Virus (COVID-19)

Experienced educators who are familiar with the challenges associated with responding to national emergencies know that school closures can affect children’s academic progress, safety and social lives.  Parents and teachers are now faced with extended school closures due to the threat of the corona virus (COVID-19).

According experts at this time more than 30,000 schools in the U.S. are being closed and this leaves more than 20 million students being asked to shift to online learning activities to keep their academic progress on target. Currently entire states have shutdown schools and some of the nation’s largest school districts have recently announced closures.

Ventura Educational Systems is offering five free apps to help elementary students to keep up their math skills:

Addition Puzzles

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Addition Puzzles is an exciting, interactive math game to help kids practice addition skills. Use logic to select the numbers that will solve the puzzle. Puzzles are randomly generated so the app offers an almost infinite number of puzzles at six different levels. Puzzles can be selected that involve just whole numbers from 0 to 20 or integers from -10 to 10.

Math Spin-o-Rama

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Use Math Spin-o-Rama to help your students practice and improve math skills.

Math Spin-O-Rama provides practice with two and three place addition with a new twist. The numbers in the problem are in the wrong place and must be rotated to be in the right place to fit the answer.

The app has four levels and includes practice in doing both two-place and three place addition. Math Spin-O-Rama makes learning fun. As students answer correctly they earn gold stars. Once they have earn five gold stars they get a chance to spin the wheel to earn a prize. The prizes are collected in a table.

Make learning fun with Math Spin-O-Rama.

Addition Blockmania

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Help Kids Learn Addition Facts and Improve Basic Math Skills!

Use Addition Blockmania to help your students practice and improve math skills.  This game challenges students to think quickly and be accurate. The object is to find a set of blocks in the stacks whose sum is equal to the given number.

The app offers four levels of activity. Larger numbers are used at the higher levels. Animation, sound effects and speech help to make this curriculum-based math activity exciting for young mathematicians. Elementary school teachers and parents with young students will find that kids enjoy practicing math skills when they are given this app to use.

On Target Math Skills

Help Kids Practice Arithmetic Skills and Problem Solving Abilities with On Target Math Skills.

The On Target Math Skills app generates an almost infinite number of puzzles where the challeng is to make a specific number given four other numbers. Students can use any of the four basic arithmetic operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication or division to try to solve the puzzle. In coming up with a solution, students will need to use the problem order of operations.

The app challenges the player to find 10 solutions in order to earn a trophy. The app offers 5 different levels of difficulty. The On Target Math Skills app is designed to be a quick math exercise that teachers can use to provide a quick basic arithmetic and problem solving activity.

Interactive Multiplication Chart

Help Kids Learn Multiplication Facts and Improve Basic Math Skills!

The Interactive Multiplication Chart app uses a grid to help students see the patterns in the addition table.

This app challenges the player to find an intersection on a grid where the product of the two multipliers fits the randomly selected problem description. Complete the activities by finding 10 correct answers. The Interactive Multiplication Chart app is designed to be a quick math exercise that teachers can use to provide practice with basic multiplication facts.

In addition to the free apps listed above Ventura Educational Systems offers a huge library of inexpensive apps focus on math, science and reading development. Our most recent releases are Hundreds Chart Deluxe, Math Connections I and II, and Phonics Connections.

Please visit our website for more information.

Phonics Connections

Get your kids on the right track for reading with Phonics Connections. The app contains motivating word games where the goal is to match vowel sounds to blanks in a word that describes a picture. This app is for beginning readers. Each of the activities feature color pictures illustrating words with short vowels, long vowels, special sounds like ar, or, er, ir and ur. In addition some of the words in the activities use the ou, ow, au, aw, and oo vowel sounds.
The app is designed to help students learn to read with ease and confidence. A connection from the vowel sound to the picture and word can be made using a finger, pointer, or Apple Pencil. Once the correct connection is made the word is pronounced and spelled using synthetic speech.

The app stores a record of the student’s progress as they continually try to improve their score. Speech and sound effects make using the app even more fun. Click the dice icon to get a randomly generated design and starting point for creative exploration. Hours of fun!

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To use the app and make a phonics connection students drag with the finger from one of the items on the left to the matching item on the right.  The app also works with Apple Pencil.  After each correct answer an animated gold star appears on the screen. Every time an activity is completed a trophy is displayed.  The scoreboard keeps a record of how many correct answers were given within each topic.

This app can be used on iPads, iPhones and Apple TV.

Phonics Connections is available with a volume discount for educational institutions. This app can be purchased worldwide exclusively through the Apple App Store.  The apps are also available through Apple’s volume purchase program. Schools get a significant discount when purchasing multiple copies of any of these apps. Contact Apple Education for more information about the volume purchase program.  Please visit Ventura Educational Systems’ website for more information about this and other iOS and tvOS apps for education.

Math Connections Set 1 and 2

Math Connections Set 1 and 2

When I was teaching math it seemed like you could never have enough worksheets for kids to do.  To me it was very helpful to have practice problems that were fun for the kids to complete.  Math worksheets that combined solving math problems with getting the punchline of a corny joke or riddle were always a hit with my students.

In Math Connections Set 1 I created an app that provides an endless supply of math practice sheets.  The app is designed to look like a spiral ring notebook sitting on a table.

Problems numbered from 1 to 10 are presented on the left and answers are shown on the right.  Each answer is associated with a letter.  At the bottom of the page there is a riddle or joke.  The punchline is hidden by numbers but as the student solves the math problems, the punchline is revealed.

Math Connections Set 1 is designed for elementary age students.  The types of problems generated by the app are in these categories:

• Addition of Positive Integers (0-12)
• Addition of Positive Integers (10-100)
• Subtraction of Positive Integers (10-100)
• Multiplication Facts (0-12)
• Powers of Two
• Square Root
There are over 100 jokes or riddles in Math Connections Set 1
In Math Connections Set 2 a different set of jokes and riddles are used.  Set 2 has problems that are appropriate for Middle School and High School level students.  In both Set 1 or Set 2 the level can be selected by tapping an icon on the scoreboard. In Set 2 the problems are in these categories:

• Variables and Expressions
• Variable Expressions with Powers
• Operations with Integers (+/-)
• Simplifying Expressions
• Powers of Two with Variables
• Square Root with Variables

Math Connections Set 1 and Set 2 are available with a volume discount for educational institutions. These apps can be purchased worldwide exclusively through the Apple App Store.  The apps are also available through Apple’s volume purchase program. Schools get a significant discount when purchasing multiple copies of any of these apps. Contact Apple Education for more information about the volume purchase program.  Please visit Ventura Educational Systems’ website for more information about this and other iOS and tvOS apps for education.

Algebra Portal AR

Algebra Portal AR

Apple’s new ARKit has opened the door to new kinds of app experiences.  My new app, Algebra Portal AR, creates virtual rooms filled with information about important terms and key concepts related to the Algebra I curriculum.  What is really exciting about the Algebra Portal is students stand up, walk around and experience a totally immersive environment that is filled with illustrated examples that are used to explain some of the fundamental ideas of algebra.

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The floor Algebra Portal is a standard Cartesian plane with the x and y axes labelled.  Teachers could develop lesson experiences that involve students walking into the portal and then moving to a specific (xy) position to learn about a particular topic from the algebra curriculum.

When a wall inside the Algebra Portal is tapped a menu of terms is displayed.  If a term is selected detailed information about the topic is displayed with examples.algebra_portal_4

Students and teachers will be amazed when they create virtual rooms filled with information about key terms and concepts from the middle school and high school algebra curriculum.

Explore algebra in a new way with the Algebra Portal AR. Use the camera view on your iPad to detect a flat surface and then tap the screen. Instantly a portal opens to a world filled with information about the terms and concepts that are part of the algebra curriculum.

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In an nutshell, to use the app, students walk around in the augmented reality algebra portal where they can tap on the walls and other objects in the rooms to get more information and to hear Siri read aloud information about the selected item. Students can scroll through an extensive list of terms related to the information on the walls of the rooms, walls and objects in the portal.

Algebra Portal AR creates virtual rooms that are approximately 4 meters by 7 meters. It is best used in a well-lit open space, perhaps in a school’s auditorium or multi-purpose room. If the Algebra Portal sounds interesting to you, you might also like the Geometry Portal AR.

Algebra Portal AR is available with a volume discount for educational institutions. Algebra Portal AR can be purchased worldwide exclusively through the Apple App Store.  It also available through Apple’s volume purchase program. Schools get a significant discount when purchasing multiple copies of Algebra Portal AR. Contact Apple Education for more information about the volume purchase program.  Please visit Ventura Educational Systems’ website for more information about this and other iOS and tvOS apps for education.

 

Interactive Life Cycles Explorer

I am fortunate to live on the Central Coast of California.  Every year we get to marvel at the amazing migration of the monarch butterfly.  These amazing creatures flock to eucalyptus groves in Pacific Grove, Pismo Beach and Nipomo.  Migration up and down North America is a part of their life cycle.  Even more amazing is the process of metamorphosis.  A satiated caterpillar forms a chrysalis, the organism’s cells complete disintegrate, and then reemerges as a beautiful monarch butterfly.

Interactive Life Cycles Explorer provides information about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and five other representative animals.  Students learn the characteristics of each stage.  After studying the information about the insect’s life cycle, the student can demonstrate the knowledge of the content by taking a quiz or playing a word game.

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Amphibians are amazing creatures.  They are able to live on land but spend at least part of their life cycle living in water.  Interactive Life Cycles Explorer provides detailed information about a typical frog’s life cycle.  Click on the amphibian’s icon leads the student into more detailed information.  Most of the content is illustrated with colorful graphics and the interface is designed to be like an information machine.  Sound effects are also used to add to the excitement.

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Fish are an major food source for human beings, so understanding their life cycle is important topic.  This app explains a representative fish’s reproduction cycle.  Students using the app learn that fish, like many other animals, require that eggs produced by the female need to be fertilized by the male in order to develop into fish.  The will read about how in fish, usually the female produces a very large number of eggs, but most eggs do not survive to maturity.  There are many threats to fish eggs.  Changes in water temperature can stop development.  Fluctuations in oxygen levels in the water can also harm developing eggs.  Some eggs are eaten by predators or die because of a disease.

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Like fish, the poultry industry is a major source of food for humans beings.  Information about the typical life cycle of birds is explained use a typical chicken’s life cycle.

topic5For mammals, the app uses a mouse.  Mice are widely used in scientific research to study the effects of drugs, chemicals and environmental conditions, in order to better understand how these effects might affect humans.

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Details about a mouse’s reproductive cycle is illustrated and labeled.  As students tap buttons they move deeper into the information and when they have finished going through the information, they can assess their mastery of information by taking a quiz or playing a word game.

Interactive Life Cycles Explorer is available with a volume discount for educational institutions. The app is available for iOS and tvOS.  Interactive Life Cycles Explorer can be purchased worldwide exclusively through the Apple App Store.  It is available through Apple’s volume purchase program.  Schools get a significant discount when purchasing multiple copies of Interactive Life Cycles Explorer. Contact Apple Education for more information about the volume purchase program.  Please visit Ventura Educational Systems’website for more information about this and other iOS and tvOS apps for education.

 Other apps in the Interactive Explorer series are:
Interactive Earth Science Explorer
Interactive Plant Biology Explorer
Interactive Earthworm Anatomy

Interactive Protists Explorer

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Protists are fascinating organisms.  They are classified as separate from plants, animals and fungus.  Most protists are single-celled organisms with a nucleus and specialized cellular organelles that perform various functions.  I designed the Interactive Protist Explorer to help students learn the detailed information about how these fascinating organisms survive.

euglenaDetailed graphics show the structures that have been identified in each organism.  The euglena shown above has many interesting structures, for example, the stigma and a flagellum.  As students dive into the information they will discover the names of important organelles and also learn about the functions that these structures perform.

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Students can call up even more information by tapping buttons and swiping the screen.  When studying the euglena for example, they will learn how this amazing organism has some characteristics that make it like an animal and others that make it like a plant.  Like an animal it can move around in its environment.  Euglena move by making a whip-like motion with it flagellum.  Like a plant, the euglena can produce chemical energy through photosynthesis.  And again, like an animal, euglena have a primitive eye-like structure or photoreceptor that senses light.  And conveniently, light energy is needed for photosynthesis.

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Despite their diminutive size, protist can wreak havoc in the bodies of other organisms, including humans.  An infection of plasmodia in the human circulatory system can be deadly.  This disease, known as malaria, is spread when an infected, female Anopheles mosquito bites a human.  Plasmodia from the saliva of the mosquito are transferred when the bite occurs.  A detailed diagram, shown above, helps explain the Malaria Cycle.

Like the other apps in the Interactive Explorer series, teachers who use the app with students will like the comprehension quizzes that are available for each organism. For example a fill-in-the-blanks style quiz prompts students to key in the missing word in a sentence.

A true/false and multiple choice style quiz can also be selected as a follow-up to studying using other parts of the app.  Percentage scores for each quiz are reported on the screen.

Interactive Protist Explorer is available with a volume discount for educational institutions. Interactive Protist Explorer can be purchased worldwide exclusively through the Apple App Store.  It also available through Apple’s volume purchase program. Schools get a significant discount when purchasing multiple copies of Interactive Protist Explorer. Contact Apple Education for more information about the volume purchase program.  Please visit Ventura Educational Systems’website for more information about this and other iOS and tvOS apps for education.

Plant and Animal Cells

Cell structures and functions are fascinating.  Like a complex machine microstructures in cells work together to support life.  Chloroplasts are tiny factories found in plant cells that are powered by solar energy and convert that energy into chemical energy that in turn is able to support all life on earth.  The Plant and Animal Cells app introduces students to chloroplasts and many other fascinating structures found in plants.

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In addition to plant cells, the app presents the key structures and functions in animal cells.  For example, the nucleus or control center of the cell.  The nucleus regulates the functions of other microstructures in the cell.

While using the app students will read about cell structures in both plant and animal cells.  Teachers will like the comprehension quizzes that are available for each topic. For example a fill-in-the-blanks style quiz prompts students to key in the missing word in a sentence.

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A true/false and multiple choice style quiz can also be selected as a follow-up to studying using other parts of the app.  Percentage scores for each quiz are reported on the screen.

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The section on cell reproduction explains the key steps in the process.  A diagram is used to help students understand the various stages.

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Plant and Animal Cells is available with a volume discount for educational institutions. Plant and Animal Cells can be purchased worldwide exclusively through the Apple App Store.  It also available through Apple’s volume purchase program. Schools get a significant discount when purchasing multiple copies of Interactive Plant and Animal Cells. Contact Apple Education for more information about the volume purchase program.  Please visit Ventura Educational Systems’ website for more information about this and other iOS and tvOS apps for education.

More Widgets

Once I got started designing the Math Widgets series I realized it was going to be a lot of fun.  The study of mathematics is an immensely broad topic and for kids who are really into math it is wonderful if a teacher can provide enrichment experiences that introduce new ideas and concepts that go beyond “what’s on the test”.  The Math Widgets series is a collection of tools with these kids and teachers in mind.

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Math Widgets III explores some special concepts in number theory.  For example, the Multibase Abacus piques one’s interest in alternative number systems.  What if we only had 8 fingers instead of 10?  Would we use a base 8 system?  With the Multibase Abacus students can investigate base 8 and any other base from 2 to 10.

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On the Multibase Abacus, numbers are represented by tapping beads to add or subtract values from the columns of various place value systems.  In the example below we are showing a base 5 system.  Starting on the right we have the ones place labeled with 50.  Moving to the left we have 5’s, 25’s, 125’s, 625’s etc.  Tapping one of the column labels results in a bubble showing the value of the place in base 10.  In the quiz mode students are challenged to represent randomly selected numbers in randomly selected bases.  Quite a few skills come into play when trying to answer the questions posed by the Multibase Abacus, including: estimation, addition, subtraction, multiplication and using exponents.

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Clock Arithmetic is another topic in math that is perfect for an enriched curriculum.  Whenever we divide two integers there is always a remainder (sometimes it’s zero).  Clock Arithmetic is a widget that encourages student’s to explore this concept which is known as Modular Arithmetic.  In programming languages there is a special operator used to signify the modulus function.  If a=7 and b=3 then in computer code a%b returns 1 since one is the remainder when 7 is divided by 3.  Sometimes the word ‘mod’ is used instead of the “%” symbol to describe this calculation, for example 15 mod 12 is equal to 3.  In the example below, tapping the 2 is the correct response.

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Once in a while, but rarely, you might find a newspaper article about a mathematician solving a problem or finding a proof that has been elusive for hundreds of years.  For example, the conjecture  that no three positive integers ab, and c satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for any integer value of n greater than 2. The cases n = 1 and n = 2 have been known to have infinitely many solutions since antiquity.  First conjectured by Pierre de Fermat in 1637, this theorem had been the focus of study by mathematician for centuries and was finally proven in 1995 by Andrew Wiles.  Goldbach’s Conjecture has never been proven. It was first posed in a letter from Goldbach to Euler in 1742.  The conjecture posits that every even integer greater than 2 can be expressed as the sum of two primes.  Use the Goldbach’s Conjecture widget to explore this idea by finding the primes whose sum is the given even numbers.

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The Hexagon Arithmetic Widget is a six number system that uses emojis as the symbols.  Counting moves in a clockwise direction around the hexagon.  The object is to complete the addition table using logic to figure out the pattern.

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Math Widgets I, II and III are offered exclusively by the iTunes App Store and sell for $1.99 each.  Educational discounts are available for schools.  Please visit our website for more information about these and other apps for education.

 

Fraction Builder

I submitted Fraction Builder to iTunes yesterday and it was approved in less than an hour!  It is so amazing to me what great service Apple offers to developers.  I certainly appreciate the way that the App Store provides access to my work to students and teachers all over the world.

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In most of my math apps I try to make them icon-based so that language skills are not critical for working with concepts.  Fraction Builder has a series of icons across the top of the screen.  Tapping each icon results in a specific function.

For example, tapping the red dice generates a random fraction.  Denominators range from 1 to 12.  Once the denominator is set, numerators can be any number that results in a proper fraction.

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When the question mark is tapped, a question is generated and displayed on a moveable note.  To answer the question students drag number tiles to make the fraction.  Usually it is best to start with the denominator.  If using this app in a classroom, the teacher should explain that the denominator represents the number of equal parts.  For this example, the student would first slide the three tile to the denominator position.  Next, the student should slide a one to the numerator position.  Once the numerator and denominator have been properly set, the students should tap the check mark.  When this icon is tapped the app compares the students answer to the correct answer for the question.

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A scoreboard displays student progress as they work with the app.  It shows the topic, number of questions attempted and the percent correct.  Quiz questions are based on three main topic areas:

• Naming Fractions

• Equivalent Fractions

• Comparing Fractions

Various other functions are performed when other icons are tapped.  This chart explains the other functions.notebook

I hope that teachers will let me know if they are interested in evaluating this app for use at their school.   I have a limited number of download codes for FREE evaluation copies of this app.   For some students learning about fractions is difficult.  It is my hope that this colorful interactive app will help them in their journey to master fraction concepts.

 

Just in Time for Halloween

What could be more fun that having your monster be chased by three other monsters?  Well that’s the theme of my latest math game.title

Ziggy, Spot and Pete are the three monsters that you want to avoid.  Harry is your monster and is controlled by tapping arrows on the iPad version or swiping the Siri Remote on the tvOS version.  The tvOS version also supports the use of a game controller so Harry can be moved using a compatible gaming device.

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The object of the game is to move Harry to the correct answer for a math problem shown at the bottom of the screen.  Anytime that  Ziggy, Spot or Pete run into Harry as they bounce around the screen, Harry loses a unit of energy.  Fortunately when Harry gets an answer correct he gets a unit of energy back.  The goal is to score ten points before running out of energy.

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Teachers and parents will like the wide range of problems.  Problems are randomly generated so the game is different every time it is played.  Skills are organized and defined using the Common Core Standards.  Look Out! Monsters! is a fast-paced game specifically designed to help kids get quicker at doing mental arithmetic.  A limited number of free promotional codes are available by request.  The app is offered exclusively by the iTunes App Store and sells for $0.99.  Please visit our website for more information about this and other apps for education.

Skills Chart

1
Operations and Algebraic Thinking Add within 20 Integers from 1 to 10 
1.OA.6
2
Operations and Algebraic Thinking Add within 20. Integers from 5 to 20
1.OA.6
3
Operations and Algebraic Thinking Add within 20. Integers from 10 to 20
1.OA.6
4
Operations and Algebraic Thinking Add within 20. Integers from 1 to 20 
1.OA.6
5
Operations and Algebraic Thinking Subtract within 20. Integers from 1 to 10
1.OA.6
6
Operations and Algebraic Thinking Subtract within 20. Integers from 1 to 20 
1.OA.6
7
Operations and Algebraic Thinking Determine the unknown whole number in an addition equation. Integers from 1 to 20
1.OA.8
8
Numbers and Operations in Base Ten Add within 100, including adding a two-digit number and a one-digit number. Integers from 1 to 100 and 1 to 10
1.NBT.4
9
Numbers and Operations in Base Ten Given a two digit number mentally find 10 more or 10 less. Integers from 10 to 100 and 10
1.NBT.5
10
Numbers and Operations in Base Ten Subtract multiples of 10 in the range 10-90 from multiples of 10 in the range 10-90 (positive or zero differences) Integers from 10 to 90
1.NBT.6
11
Operations and Algebraic Thinking Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies. Integers from 0 to 20
2.OA.2
12
Numbers and Operations in Base Ten Fluently add and subtract within 100 using strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction. Integers from 0 to 100
2.NBT.5
13
Numbers and Operations in Base Ten Add up to four two-digit numbers using strategies based on place value and properties of operations. Number Range: Integers from 0 to 1000
2.NBT.6
14
Numbers and Operations in Base Ten Mentally add 10 or 100 to a given number 100–900, and mentally subtract 10 or 100 from a given number 100–900. Number Range: Integers from 10 to 100 and 100 to 900
2.NBT.8
15
Operations and Algebraic Thinking Fluently multiply within 100. Factors from 0 to 10
3.OA.7
16
Operations and Algebraic Thinking Fluently divide within 100. Divisors and Quotients from 0 to 10
3.OA.7
17
Number and Operations in Base Ten Recognize that in a multi-digit whole number, a digit in one place represents ten times what it represents in the place to its right. Dividends from 10 to 1000 and Divisors of 10 or 100
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Operations and Algebraic Thinking Use parentheses, brackets, or braces in numerical expressions, and evaluate expressions with these symbols. Integers 1 to 10
5.OA.A.1
19
Expressions and Equations Evaluate expressions at specific values of their variables. Integers 1 to 10
6.EE.A.2c
20
Expressions and Equations Solve real-world and mathematical problems by writing and solving equations of the form x + p = q and px = q for cases in which p, q and x are all nonnegative rational numbers. Integers 1 to 10
6.EE.B.7