Investigating Apps to Use on the iPad in the Math Classroom

Area(s) of Focus: technology, math
Division(s): Intermediate
Level(s): Grade 9, Grade 10

Teachers became acquainted with several math apps available on the iOS platform and developed activities using iPads to enhance teaching and learning in grade 9 and 10 math classes. Teachers focused on the Nearpod, Desmos and Educreations apps.

Our project focus was to learn strategies using the iPad to enhance teaching and learning in grade 9 and 10 math classes. Specifically, we wanted to learn about apps that could be used for instruction and for student inquiry, and to investigate the impact on student achievement of embedded technology in the applied classroom.

Team Members

  • Beth Bonin

    Toronto District School Board

  • Mayte Jordan

    Toronto District School Board

  • Rob Polera

    Toronto District School Board

Professional Learning Goals

Our learning goals included:

  • become proficient at integrating technology (iPad) into the math classroom
  • identify and learn how to use apps to improve student achievement
  • identify and learn how to use apps specific to particular math courses
  • demonstrate, with results from the inquiry, the impact technology can have on the classroom/achievement

Activities and Resources

The school purchased four iPads. The team members working on this project started by familiarizing themselves with the technology. Students subsequently used the iPads for investigations and review activities in class.

Teachers met and worked with a Math Instructional Leader, who shared her knowledge of math apps she had successfully used for instruction, student inquiry and review purposes. After considering a wide variety of apps, teachers focused their learning on the following three: Nearpod, Desmos and Educreations.

Time was spent developing resources and activities specifically geared to grade 9 and 10 classes.

A survey was conducted on students’ impressions of the impact this technology had had on their learning and achievement.

Finally, teachers compared student achievement data from evaluations for which students had reviewed without and then with the use of Nearpod.


Unexpected Challenges

After our meeting with the Math Instructional Leader, teachers were very enthusiastic to prepare activities and try out the apps. However, the lack of time was a challenge. More time was needed for team members to share feedback on their experiences in the classroom and to prepare additional activities.

In terms of use of iPads in the classroom, teachers struggled with a limited number of tablets and unreliable Wi-Fi access.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

  • adding hands-on learning opportunities engages different types of learners
  • Nearpod gives teacher and students immediate feedback on their performance
  • Desmos allows the students to focus on big picture concepts instead of spending time on simple graphing tasks
  • Educreations promotes the flipped classroom strategy which allows for more flexibility in the classroom, and encourages student accountability and ownership



The team members shared resources and successes and challenges with each other on an ongoing basis, both formally during meetings and informally.

The results were also shared with colleagues in the math department at our school during a PLC session. Teachers presented one activity using Nearpod to demonstrate its use for review and assessment for learning. A second activity was presented using Desmos to demonstrate its ability to help students represent linear relations graphically in an efficient way.

Project Evaluation

The project was definitely a success in that it has prompted teachers to learn more about and use technology for student learning and to improve student engagement. It gives teachers an additional tool for variety purposes.

The grant allowed the school to purchase its first four iPads and the school is now supporting the math department with purchasing additional iPads to create a class set.

How we determined success

  • Anecdotal student response: The feedback was very positive; students enjoyed getting immediate response and feedback.
  • Teacher observation: Students were very enthusiastic about using the iPads.  Teachers observed that students tended to get on task more quickly and stay on task for longer periods of time when using the iPads.
  • Data: Student performance was analyzed for two units in two classes. The class median increased in three of the four instances when Nearpod was used for review. On average, the class median increased by 16 per cent when Nearpod was used. A survey was also conducted. On average, on a scale of one (least) to 10 (greatest), students gave a seven out of 10 for iPads helping them learn better in class and a five-point-five out of 10 for iPads improving their grade. The positive comments were that iPads made lessons more fun and engaging and it was a different method of learning. Other students voiced that there were not enough opportunities to use iPads to evaluate their effectiveness and that iPads were shared amongst too many students to be effective.