This week we played a new game from our 5th grade curriculum (Bridges Second Edition) called Beat the Calculator: Fractions. In the game, students race to try to solve a fraction addition or subtraction problem before an opponent solves the same game using a calculator. I offered to let one pair of students use a free app on my iPad rather than using a regular calculator. The app, My Script Calculator, records almost any equation written on the iPad and then transforms it into type and solves.
First, you write the equation with your finger or with a stylus:
The numbers magically transform into type:
And then the problem is instantly solved by the calculator. This video shows more examples:
My students love this app. Since I require them to enter fractions as division expressions, it reinforces the concept of fraction as division:
CCSS.Math.Content.5.NF.B.3 Interpret a fraction as division of the numerator by the denominator (a/b = a ÷ b).
This app also highlights something that is crucial to understanding the future of mathematics teaching and learning. I can enter almost any problem on this calculator and instantly see the answer. In the age of technology, it's easy to find the answer to an algorithm. What's hard? To define the problem or to answer: "What is the problem asking us to do? What do we need to know to solve the problem? How do we go about solving the problem?"