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September 1st, 2017, 01:40 PM   #1
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Algebra drill apps

So I'm working with a couple of students who are weak in algebra fundamentals. One of them has dyslexia and dyscalculia and so frequently gets things like addition and multiplication mixed up. I mean that he will see $3x +x$ and simplify that as $3x^2$, or he will see $4x-3x-x$ and simplify it as $1$.

I would like to drill him, and introduce some ideas I have for math/dyslexia situations. Are there apps that can produce several problems in quick succession, in particular drilling one small area, like "simplifying by addition of like terms," before going on to drill other areas?

I will accept both Android tablet apps and iPad apps.

These kinds of drills could be extended into many areas, with varying degrees of complexity. I would guess that more than one app is going to be needed to find appropriate drills in all the areas he is working with right now.

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September 1st, 2017, 03:18 PM   #2
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Coping with dyslexia and dyscalculia together isn't easy. It's almost like getting to know a subject you find really tedious (even though you want to know about it) using a textbook that has every sentence printed with various words or letters in the wrong order and having to remember that wrong order. I've met someone with dyslexia who managed really well. He explained that he'd gradually learnt how to avoid certain problems and get round others. His brain still gave him wrong information; in effect, he knew that certain things needed to be written in code so that other people would say that they were correct, and he'd slowly learnt the code. His dyslexia had no effect on spoken communication, but writing what he'd just said could still be awkward. Unfortunately, he didn't describe how he dealt with something he'd never seen before, such as an exam paper. I've never met someone with dyscalculia, but I gather that the problems are similar, in that you know, for example, what "solving an equation" means, but your brain obstructs you from doing it correctly. In other words, your brain makes recognizing various patterns difficult, whereas most people recognize them almost instantly.
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September 1st, 2017, 03:39 PM   #3
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Thanks. It's interesting you mention that he could speak with no problem. The advice I've seen with dyslexia is to try to make learning multi-modal. For instance, you write something you have just learned, then speak it out loud, then maybe write it in colored pencils or pens with the colors have certain meanings (like variables are one color, constants are another), then trace it with your finger to "physicalize" it. I don't think he's going to want to do this, but singing it also has been shown to use different brain pathways than speaking it. So basically you are trying to access several parts of the brain: analytical through vision, artistic/aesthetic through colored pens, sequential vocalization through speaking, and auditory/artistic through singing.

The problem is that the school kept passing him along and he's now in precalculus and yet struggles with algebra I. I don't think his parents are really ready to commit to an extended course of this kind of drill, which would take probably three sessions a week.

So all I can do it try to carry on. I tend to let him guide the sessions because he stays more engaged that way, but I may have to impose some more structure.
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September 1st, 2017, 09:50 PM   #4
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"King of Maths" is a popular, and well developed app for iOS. It is mostly good for drilling arithmetic, but I just noticed they offer a paid version that may allow for drilling algebra.

The other one is called "Algebra touch" on iOS. Unfortunately, there is no free version, but it's not overly expensive anyhow.

What I think to be an advantage for some people is that you can physically manipulate the symbols on the screen. In doing this, one might be able to 'imagine' the same actions being performed when doing algebra on paper. Similar to how a child might count on his/her fingers.

Last edited by skipjack; September 2nd, 2017 at 12:45 AM.
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