Math App Helps Middle School Students Understand Place Values

Some young learners have a hard time visualizing basic math concepts from printed worksheets or in-class whiteboard examples. That’s especially true with place values.

The "Number Pieces" app for tablets helps middle school students understand place value and other mathematical concepts.In tablet-enabled classrooms, math apps are great resources because they give students extra help via self-paced exercises. A good app teachers should consider is “Number Pieces” by The Math Learning Center.

“Number Pieces” focuses on helping students develop a deeper understanding of place value while building their computation skills with multidigit numbers. It targets students in mid to upper elementary school.

By moving and dividing onscreen manipulative blocks called number pieces, students practice and reinforce their understanding of basic math concepts, including:

  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Counting
  • Number sense
  • Place value

The app is similar to the base-10 manipulative blocks traditionally used to familiarize young learners with basic math concepts. However, thanks to technology, the app gives students more options and versatility in how the pieces are moved, presented and saved.

Getting started

The app launches quickly with no registration or login. Look in the bottom right corner of the screen and use a finger to tap the “I” icon to launch the instruction page. Clear illustrations show how students can use their fingers to select, move, size and count number pieces onscreen. Instructions also explain each of the app’s tools and how they work.

Tap the “Done” button in the upper right corner of the screen to return to the work area. Along the right side of the screen are icons for number pieces. At the bottom of the screen are icons to launch individual tools.

Students start by choosing the number pieces icon they want and dragging it to the center of the work area. Number pieces come individually, in lines, grids and expandable edge lines. There is no limit to how many number pieces can be moved into the work area.

Next, students count number pieces, then break them apart and combine with others to form groups of 10 to represent multidigit numbers. This helps students visualize place values when they add, subtract, multiply and divide number pieces onscreen.

When there are many number pieces in play, it can be hard to identify individual groups and keep the work area organized. That’s where the app’s suite of digital tools comes in handy. To make changes, students select a number piece by tapping it with a finger, and then tap the tool icon they want to use from the bottom of the screen.

The tools offer a variety of functions:

  • Color. Tap to change the color of number pieces for easy identification.
  • Draw. Mark and circle groups of number pieces.
  • Duplicate. Copy individual or groups of number pieces.
  • Math text. Onscreen keypad for writing expressions and equations.
  • Rotate. Select number pieces and rotate them in any direction.

Other tools let students quickly break apart, combine, redistribute or eliminate individual or groups of number pieces. The app’s colorful interface and open work area should appeal to visual learners, while the tools and hands-on movement of onscreen icons may help keep kinesthetic learners engaged.

What’s included

Content in the “Number Pieces” app is all-inclusive. Once it’s been downloaded into a device, all content and tools, including number tiles, math text, rotation, drawing and color palettes, will work without an internet connection.

There are no advertisements or in-app purchases, and no registration is needed.

Download details

The “Number Pieces” app by The Math Learning Center is free. It can be downloaded from iTunes and is compatible with iPad tablets running iOS version 7.0 or later. An Android version for Chromebook tablets is available under the app category at the Google Chrome web store. Windows Surface tablet users can find it in the education app area at the Microsoft store.

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