Monday, March 18, 2013

DragonBox+: Algebra Made Easy!

For quite a while, I have been searching for a mathematics app that is able to not only teach procedural fluency, but also address the underlying conceptual understanding that is so important.  There are some great apps out there, but most of them invariably fall back to a default reliance on teaching procedures, which to me looks much too much like traditional mathematics instruction.

Therefore, I was thrilled to find the DragonBox+ app.*  The app actually teaches algebra and has a lot of mathematical concepts embedded within the game.  The app is very visually appealing and is highly intuitive.  Students can solve puzzles without even realizing the serious mathematics that lies underneath.  For example, on just the first level, students are already applying the inverse element, exploring what an equals sign means, and solving equations.  At first, the students solve to get a treasure chest by itself.  By puzzle 18, the treasure chest becomes "x."

The scaffolding of content here is terrific.  At first students are working with symbols, which then become numbers and variables.  More complex concepts are added, such as fractions and the multiplicative identity element, but the app maintains a sufficient level of challenge and continues to engage students throughout.  The mathematical concepts presented here can easily be supplemented by a number of extension activities outside the app to further develop mastery.  For those that think algebra is only for middle school and high school students, let your primary students explore with DragonBox+ and let algebra happen!

*I should note that I am not being compensated by DragonBox+ to write these kind words.  I am simply a mathematics enthusiast and former algebra teacher who is thrilled to see algebra presented in such a fun and engaging way!

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