Product Review of Fractions, by the Math Learning Center
Fractions, by the Math Learning Center is a free whiteboard app (for iOS, Chrome, and the web) designed for learning about fractions in elementary and middle school math classrooms. Students can create visual representations of fractions using bars or circles they manipulate on a board, choose how many parts to split their model into, and select a color to shade in some of those parts. Bars or circles can be flipped or rotated and shaded with a choice of six different colors. Students can write a fraction using the drawing tool or click the “1/2” icon to have the app show the fraction.
The operations symbol pulls up a virtual keypad where learners can type numbers, and the slash symbol can be used to separate the numerator and denominator. This section also provides the greater than or less than (or equal) symbols, as well as the percent and dollar signs, among others. Numbers once again can be represented using different colors. A drawing tool allows learners to draw freehand, create straight lines, or erase their work. The first symbol in the toolbar clears all work on the whiteboard, including drawings, bars, and circles. Alternatively, the trash can icon can be used to delete individual bars and circles.
Fractions, by the Math Learning Center is a unique whiteboard tool that teaches learners about fractions visually. Teachers may use the app in a whole-group lesson or as a station in centers. The teacher can prompt learners to model parts, comparing and/or performing operations with fractions. Students can visualize fractions by drawing bars or circles on the whiteboard. They can choose the number of parts and can shade boxes to represent any given fraction, and drag models above others to compare fractions, making it easier to understand which is bigger. Additionally, there are options to use a drawing tool to write out the problems or to click on a symbol to reveal the numerator and denominator.
There’s also an information icon that explains how to use each feature of the app. While there aren’t any options to share or send student work, taking a screenshot or screencasting is always available. Students can take a screenshot or make a screencast and send it to their teacher through their learning management system (LMS) or email (if set up beforehand).
Fractions, by the Math Learning Center presents fractions to learners in a concrete way. Visualizations in the app can be used to compare, calculate, or just represent parts of a whole. It’s also great for struggling learners who would otherwise have difficulty coloring or shading parts of a fraction model. With the ability to simply press on a section, the “coloring” is done for the student! Additionally, with a student’s handwriting that’s difficult to read, typing out numbers takes stress away from the student and teacher. While the app could be useful for reviewing learners‘ work, there are no save or share options and, therefore, limited opportunities to assign homework or see what learners are doing in the app outside the classroom.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Students will remain engaged while creating colorful visual representations of fractions and using the drawing tool. However, the inability to share creations limits the tool’s practicality.
Curriculum and Instruction
There are no built-in lessons, but the app gives learners the freedom to create bars or circles, type on a virtual keypad, and draw multiple representations of fractions.
An information icon links to a how-to and About section, but support in-app is limited and the info is quite basic. The developer’s website has more resources, in the form of publications about various math education topics.