On Tuesday I wrote about a math app that gave me paroxysms so today I want to write about a math app that gives me the warm fuzzies. It only seems fair. This way we’ll balance out the Universe.
Just this week a brandy new app called Native Numbers was released for the iPad in the App Store. You guys know as well as I do how many terrible education apps there are out there, so my expectations were….not that high. So I was very pleasantly surprised when Native Numbers turned out to be great!
Native Numbers, produced by Native Brain, Inc. is a math app that is targeted to kids between the ages of 4 and 7 and it focuses on basic principles related to numbers….so-called “number sense.” What is number sense? Well, you’ll have to buy the app to get the entire list, but some of the activities include matching a visual representation of a number and a spoken number, matching different visual renderings of numeric values (e.g., a “die” type icon to a bar), making judgments about greater than and less than…and many more. There are five sections of the app: Number Concepts, Number Relations, Number Ordering, Counting and Demonstrate Mastery, each with their own sets of learning objectives. Each section has five modules and the learner must achieve mastery with each module in order to unlock the next; each section must also be mastered in order to unlock the next. These guys do Mastery Learning very well and it’s nice to see!
The learning tasks are engaging, with consistent feedback for correct and incorrect answers, and the program automatically levels up as the learner makes correct responses. This makes it more fun and interesting for kids….and MUCH more interesting for a reviewer like me! But fun and interesting aside, adapting to the performance of the learner allows every learner to be successful, wherever a learner falls along the continuum of skills.
The visuals are clean and uncluttered, but slick and professional-looking. For example, all of the objects being manipulated have subtle shading in the colors that add a “shininess” to them; not critical to the learning provided by the program, of course, but a nice attention to detail, nonetheless. Frankly, if the instruction is good I can tolerate stick figures, but in this app I don’t have to choose….the instruction is good AND the graphics are visually pleasing. And one thing that will help teachers is that this app is aligned to Common Core State Standards as well.
But those of you who read me know how persnickety I can be and this time is no exception. There are two areas of Native Numbers that I think can use some improvement.
1. The app allows the parent or teacher to set up an account to receive reports of their learner’s progress. Good idea, but I was disappointed that the reporting measures were percent correct by module. I would have liked to see more specific measures, such as performance report by number, since this is an app targeted at number sense. Most teachers and some parents will want to see actionable data that point out specific skill areas that need improvement.
2. I was pleased to see performance remediation in the first two modules of the Number Concepts section, Rods and Sets, where the app kicks off. When I made errors the wrong answer was removed and I was prompted to pick the correct answer. I like this approach because it’s giving some instruction to the learner and preventing the learner from establishing an error history by repeating the same mistake. Disappointingly, the remediation for errors dropped out in the third module, Match Rods, and reverted to trial-and-error with the incorrect answer snapping back to its original position. I would like to see the remediation approach infused throughout the app. It can be more sophisticated than dropping an incorrect answer after only one error, but the program should rise up to support the learner whenever needed.
Overall, I’m really pleased with Native Numbers, particularly as this is only v1! With a few minor tweaks and additions, this could be the go-to math app for young learners. Nice job, Native Brain!
You can purchase Native Numbers in the App Store for
the special introductory price of $2.99 $9.99. Native Brain provided me with a promo code for this app.