Game Based Math Learning on iPad for Solving Equations
Updated Jan 19, 2014:
I created a post explaining how I use Dragonbox in my classroom with some resources in PDF form. Access it here.
Dragon Box is an interactive PC, Mac OS, iPad iOS, and Android app which quickly teaches the player the concept of opposite operations and other rules required to solve complex math equations. Best of all, the player has no idea that the purpose of the app is to teach you math concepts!
What starts out as a game which requires the player to isolate the box on one of the two “sides,” quickly progresses into students solving for ‘x’ on two sides of an equation. By the time the player realizes that they are doing math, they are in too deep and will be eager to solve the next level.
The Best Math iPad App – Solve Equations With Dragon Box YouTube Review
How to use Dragon Box and teach your child to solve equations?
Out of the page of great advice, some of the most important that jumped out at me were:
- Use DragonBox+, because it contains 100 supplementary equations that are important to get enough practice to be able to solve equations mechanically.
- Let the student play the full game, that means solve the 200 equations, at their own pace. It can require different sessions of 20 minutes. You can gently help them if necessary but the best is to let them play the game themselves.
- Never try to explain to the player that she divides or add numbers! you would spoil the game!
- Make sure they get the point of the game, that means isolate the box on one side.
It is important to keep in mind that this game will not completely replace the usual solving equations lesson you would teach your students, but it is a great digital manipulative which gives the students a real world connection when introducing opposite operations and isolating variables in equations.
Warning: Mathematics is a game. Don’t spoil it!
On the We Want to Know website, the creators of Dragon Box, they have a great quote under their recommendations of how to utilize the app to its fullest:
Warning: Mathematics is a game. Don’t spoil it!
It’s a great quote which all mathematics educators, including myself, need to really think about on a regular basis. Kids hate math and we need to find a way to make it more enjoyable to promote continuing mathematics education throughout secondary and post-secondary schooling. This game gives me hope that we are slowly moving in the right direction.
Dragon Box Math App Screenshots & Tutorial Guide
Once in the game, you’ll be asked to select or create a DragonBox Avatar Character. While you could have all students use the same character, I’d advise individual students creating their own avatar since each chapter and level of the game must be unlocked by completing the pre-requisite level.
DragonBox+ Offers 5 Chapters With 20 Levels Each + Unlock Bonus Practice Equations!
The DragonBox+ App does a great job scaffolding the basics of solving equations throughout 5 chapters, each having 20 questions each. After the player completes all 5 chapters, which equates to 100 equations, the BONUS section is unlocked which offers another 100 equations for practice. It took my wife about 45 minutes to complete four chapters with ease or 80 equations. Imagine trying to get a student to complete 80 equations in one class?
DragonBox+ Uses a Gradual Release of Responsibility Approach
All instructions given throughout the game are quick, visually demonstrated, and easy to implement for the player without much thinking.
DragonBox+ Creatively Uses Symbols and Creativity to Represent Numbers & Operators
For example, in the first level, players are instructed to “Tap Here” on a card with a green swirly tornado-like cartoon on it. Once you tap on this type of card, it disappears. Mathematics teachers will quickly realize that this particular card represents the number zero.
Immediate Descriptive Feedback for Player After Each Equation
Another reason the Dragon Box App is so great is it provides descriptive feedback to the player after beating each level (aka solving each equation). The three keys the game looks for after finishing each level are:
- The box is alone! (aka variable isolated)
- Right number of moves (aka no unnecessary operations used)
- Right number of cards (aka simplified as completely as possible)
What a great way to have students learn the three keys to solving any equation in everyday language.
Day & Night Cards = Positive & Negative Terms
Thus far, DragonBox+ has replaced the variable with a box, the constant zero with a green swirly tornado, and now positive and negatives are replaced with night and day.
Two words: Real World
Dragon Box Equation Solving Complexity Continues to Increase
In time, the game provides players with the opportunity to add cards (terms) to both sides, teaches the player a rule which allows you to drag two identical cards on-top of each other to make them “disappear” (i.e.: dividing two identical terms), and so on… Check out a few more screen shots to see how the complexity increases over time…
Share Your Experience with DragonBox+ Below!
Looking forward to hearing about your experiences with the app. What age group you used it with, the student reaction, your overall impression, and any other general comments would be great!
Remember to check out the resources I created to assist you with using Dragonbox in your classroom:
Download Dragonbox on iOS from the App Store
Dragonbox for Ages 5+
Dragonbox for Ages 12+
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