Idea Central

Strategies & Ideas to Support Struggling Learners

Math Word Problems Are Tough… Or Are They?

Math word problems are tough!

Ummm… Actually, no, they’re not. There’s a simple strategy you can learn and apply to any math word problem.

If your child struggles with math word problems, you need to teach them this strategy. If you do, they’ll be way ahead of other kids who just give up!

It’s a simple 5-step process. Let’s use the following simple problem as an example.

On a school trip to a farm, Jackie saw 14 sheep. 3 of them were baby sheep. How many adult sheep did she see?

1. First, identify what information you are trying to find out. i.e. what answer are you looking for?

In our example, we want to find out how many adult sheep Jackie saw.

2. Next, identify what information you already know from the problem. By their nature, math word problems give you information to work with.

In our example we are told:

 -  how many sheep Jackie saw (14).

-  how many baby sheep Jackie saw (3).​

3. Next, you draw a model to help you “see” the problem. Here’s a screenshot from the app showing this step of the problem. Several levels of the app work on helping your learner build an appropriate model.

4. Finally, you figure out how to identify the unknown piece. In this example, the following equation will find the solution.

14 - 3 = ?

5. Lastly, find the solution and put your answer in a sentence.

Jackie saw 11 adult sheep.

And you are done!

The same process can be applied to any word problem. Teaching this process to your learner gives them a way to manage the problem and find the answer.

You can give your child a lot of practice at each step and then combine the steps to deal with complete problems. Or you can just grab our Math Word Problems app.

Unique on the app store, this app helps kids understand HOW to do math word problems step-by-step.

We start with the absolute basics, and by the end your child will know how to interpret and complete one-step math word problems using addition and subtraction.

Each level in Math Word Problems targets a specific step in working through a math word problem. Once proficient, these skills are combined as your child works through complete problems.

Let your child have the feeling of math success. Grab our Math Word Problems app today!

What’s in the Stars?

Welcome to our third [Inside the App] series, where we take you inside our apps and show you why our apps work for struggling learners.

Today's focus is understanding your learner's progress.

As an SLP, parent or educator, it is vitally important that you know how your struggling learner is progressing.

If you are allocating your learner's time to a resource, you need to be confident that the resource is giving your learner the benefit you expect.

At Happy Frog, we take that very seriously. We offer both 'at a glance' AND detailed reporting to meet your needs.

At-a-Glance Reporting​

The quickest way to see your learner's progress is to go the 'Select Level' screen and see how many levels are open and how many stars have been earned for each level.

To open a level, your learner must pass the previous level. This means at some point your learner achieved 8/10 on the previous level.

Stars are assigned when you pass a level. 8/10 earns you one star.  9/10 earns you two stars. 10/10 earns you 3 stars.

The stars will show you how well your learner did the last time they completed that level.​

Detailed Reporting​

To get more detailed information, go to the User Information page, accessed from the main screen.

At the top of the User Info page​, you will find a dashboard. The large dial shows you your learners accuracy over the last 10 completed levels.

The remaining dials shows your learner's top 3 levels and bottom 3 levels. The top 3 levels are those your learner has performed best on during the last 10 completed levels.  The bottom 3 show the levels your learner has performed the worst on over the last 10 completed levels.​

Below the dashboard, you can find more detailed information about your learner.

The left hand column shows you how your learner has performed on each level. You can see which levels have consistent good performance, which are uneven, and which are challenging.

On the right hand side, you get a log of the levels your learner has completed.  Date, level and performance are recorded. Use this data to ensure your learner is practicing regularly.​

And there we have it!  We give you quick information to the level you need so that you KNOW your learner is progressing.  

As your learner is playing the levels, you can be confident that you can check later to get all the information you need.​

Getting Wrong Answers Right

Welcome to our second [Inside the App] series, where we take you inside our apps and show you why our apps work for struggling learners.

Today's focus is wrong answers. How an app responds to a wrong answer can make a big difference for how quickly your child learns.

You may have noticed that some apps have really fun sounds when an answer is incorrect.​ That is a really bad idea!

When the wrong answer is fun, struggling learners are often motivated to get the wrong answer over and over again.  AND over and over again!

I'm sure you've experienced this 🙂

Playing around with wrong answers is NOT learning!​

To motivate struggling learners, you need to make sure that the wrong answer is NOT fun, and that the correct answer IS fun or rewarding in some way.  ​

A simple way to test an app is to check out the app's response to correct and incorrect answers.  You'll quickly know whether this is a good choice for your learner.​

And what about Happy Frog apps?  

Well our wrong answers are super boring!  Either nothing happens, or a helpful hint will pop up. No sound effects, no visual effects. Nothing but help for learning.

And correct responses?  They get a nice upbeat chime that dos not get annoying and the user earns coins to spend in the shop.

Yay.  Your student is now motivated to work for the correct answer.​

Want to see this in action in one of our apps?  Check out Inference Ace. It's great for all learners.

We hope you've enjoyed this look inside our apps.  You are now ready check out educational apps... to make sure they are actually educational!

Our Reward Center – [Inside the App Series]

This is the first in our [Inside the App] series where we take you inside our apps and show you why our apps work for struggling learners.

Today we put our Reward Center under the microscope.

What is the Reward Center?

All our apps have Reward Centers. The Reward Center contains two games that learners can access after they have done their daily work.

When a user first accesses our apps, the Reward Center is closed. To open the Center, users must do their ‘daily work’. This corresponds to finishing about one or two levels of the app.

Why Include A Reward Center?

It comes down to one word: Motivation

Our Reward Centers motivate your student in several ways.

  • As a reward for hard work.

Learning new skills is hard work, especially if it is a skill you struggle with.

Kids need a reward for doing that hard work and that’s what our Reward Centers provide. After passing a few levels, kids can chill out for a few minutes playing the available games.

  • As a motivation to work more

To purchase items in the shop or to play the in-built game, you need to earn coins. The only way to earn coins is to get correct answers.

You will find your learners playing extra levels just to get enough coins to play the fun games again. That’s a really good thing!!

Why Isn’t the Reward Center Open All the Time?

Our Reward Center is not always open. Every day your learner must complete 10-15 minutes of work to re-open the Reward Center. 

This means your child must work before they get their reward. Since most kids LOVE our Reward Centers, they will get to work without complaint in order to get time to play in the Reward Center.

This has several benefits.

1. You don’t have to push so hard to get your child to do the work.

2. You’ll know when your child has done a good amount of practice. Working too little means no progress. Working too long without reward leads to burnout.

With our apps, if your child has opened the Reward Center, then you know that he/she has done a good amount of work for the day. You can let your child lead the way to play in the Rewards Center… or do a bit more work to earn more coins to spend.

We hope you have enjoyed our look inside the app. Watch for more in this series!

Should You Care About Fluency?

If your child has a comprehension problem, your first step should be to check your child’s reading fluency.

Reading fluency is the ability to read a text quickly, accurately and with appropriate expression.

Fluent readers do not have to stop and decode each word. They recognize words automatically. This means they can focus on what the words mean.

Readers who are not fluent read slowly, taking time to decode words or to move on to the next word. All their attention is spent on saying the words. Little attention is left for comprehension.

For this reason, fluency is absolutely key.  Good comprehension can't occur without good fluency.

So, your first step in dealing with a comprehension problem is getting your child’s fluency up to grade level.


Repeated Readings

An excellent strategy to promote fluency is repeated readings. Your learner rereads the same text until grade level speed or some other target speed is reached.

Once the goal is reached with one text, you do the same with another text. This practice helps your child’s brain get used to reading faster.

When your learner is reading grade-level texts at grade-level speed, you are done!

Need help getting started? Just grab our reading fluency app.

Our Reading Fluency Builder app quickly develops your child's reading speed to meet grade level expectations. The app provides a fun game-like environment that motivates even hesitant learners.

Reading Fluency Builder provides:

- Graduated practice starting with simple texts and slower speeds.

- Students progress only when they demonstrate mastery.

- Students can practice with multiple texts per level.

- 'At a glance' reporting shows you instantly how your learner is progressing.

- Audio support is provided so learners can hear a fluent model.

- Fun Reward Center increases student motivation.

- Incremental levels take a student from mid-Grade 1 reading speed up to mid-Grade 5 reading speed.

Our app is based on proven research on the effectiveness of modeled and repeated reading to increase fluency -- but we make it fun!

We have a workbook available as well for those who need a break from the screen.  It contains graduated texts and instructions for improving your child's fluency.

All the educational benefit of the app -  just in a different format!

If you are concerned about your learner's reading, fluency is your first goal.

Get started today!