iPad Apps to Improve Student Math Communication

Area(s) of Focus: technology
Division(s): Primary, Junior
Level(s): Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 4, Grade 5

Our project involved using iPad applications to enhance student learning in mathematics. We provided classroom time to teach our students how to use the Explain Everything app in order to provide a medium for them to explain their thinking in Math.

Our project involved using technology more effectively to enhance student learning in mathematics. Our team wanted to increase our proficiency in specific applications on our iPads (Explain Everything, EduCreations, Book Creator and Virtual Manipulatives). We developed a bank of activities and explorations focusing on student-based inquiry in mathematics. We used release time to increase our comfort level with the above applications, as well as to assemble those activities for our students. We used those apps in our classrooms to demonstrate/model to different problem-solving skills and the inquiry process to our students. We created the activities with the intention that our students will also be able to use the apps to explain their thinking in mathematics.

Team Members

  • Michelle Passmore

    Near North DSB

  • Jennifer Graff

    Near North DSB

  • Christine Moreau

    Near North DSB

  • Nicole Bentley

    Near North DSB

Professional Learning Goals

Our foremost professional learning goal for this project was to increase our comfort level and proficiency when using the iPad apps with our students. For all four of us, this was definitely achieved. Obviously, there will be continued growth and changes made each time we use the iPads to enhance student learning, but for this project goal, it was definitely accomplished.

Activities and Resources

We used our first release day to work together and increase our comfort level with the Explain Everything app. We watched various tutorials on using the app and then “played” in the program. We looked at how we could introduce it to our students and have them use the app in our math programs. In our classrooms, the Grade 4/5 teacher was able to incorporate Explain Everything right into her unit on area and perimeter. After Ms. Graff’s class had time “playing” with the app (learning how to use it), students were then able to provide their answers using numbers, pictures and orally explain their thinking (not just words). In both the Grade 1/2 classes, the Grade 2 teachers used the app more to recall/summarize the students’ work after using manipulatives. Therefore, at a later date, the teacher could go back to the saved work to ask a specific student their understanding. In my class, the ELK students were able to count, make patterns, etc. But I found that I needed to use the app with the students one-on-one for a particular lesson. They did however enjoy using the app on their own during centre time.

Unexpected Challenges

The only challenge I believe our group had was timing. As the projects’ information package came a lot later than expected, we found the first deadline (i.e., the interim report) required us to meet as a group a lot faster and/or quicker than we had expected. The shorter time made it difficult to find three good release days with enough purposeful time in between each.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

By using the Explain Everything app, students were able to explain their thinking when solving math problems. The project allowed students to look forward to their math time, they began wanting to use the iPads regularly even while knowing that they would need to explain orally while they were creating their solutions on Explain Everything.


At each of our schools, we did have the opportunity to share/demonstrate our uses with the Explain Everything app and our students. In the process of this project, I have actually moved schools, so that I plan to present this to my co-workers next year (or whenever we next have “PD” available).

We also did have time at MDPS to actually go into one of the junior classrooms and model to not only the teacher but the students how to use this app.

Project Evaluation

We do believe that the project was a good complement/learning experience for all of us. Not only did we become proficient in using this app, we were able to find other great uses for the iPads during math instruction.

As mentioned above, our students began to look forward to math time and they regularly asked to use the iPads to explain their thinking.

The only area we would have done differently is kept the project participants to one or two grades. In ended up being such a difference in abilities (obviously), that it was almost too difficult to continue to our next action plan step (creating activitives to use in Explain Everything) together.

Resources Used

Below please find the link for the tutorial to Explain Everything.


Again, another of our tutorials we watched.


We also looked at different lesson plan ideas during our release days together.


Resources Created

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