I seldom get the opportunity to write about an IT topic that is rooted in the Revised Primary School Curriculum and I have never had the opportunity to write about an IT topic that can be presented to a class in its entirety “as Gaeilge”! Therefore I was delighted to get an invite to review a wonderful educational app called Symmetry School.
Symmetry School is the first app in a software suite entitled “Spraoi School” from Dublin based company PixelSoup. The app is the perfect resource for teachers from 3rd to 6th class when they are teaching the Strand Unit – Symmetry. The app most definitely helps to support the key curriculum objectives of identifying and understanding lines of symmetry to complete patterns and it also embraces many of the key Maths Language vocabulary – fold, axis, symmetry, symmetrical, mirror, reflection, match, complete and exactly. In particular the “Free Play” element, where pupils can create their own symmetrical patterns, can be used in place of the ancient classroom Peg Boards!
So what exactly does Symmetry School do? After the opening splash screen the user can select from 6 different languages (English, Gaeilge, Deutsch, Français, Español and Chinese); the next screen provides three main options: – Reflective Symmetry, Rotational Symmetry and Free Play. Both the Reflective Symmetry and Rotational Symmetry options provide a choice of three different levels – Easy, Medium and Hard.
The activities are designed to assist with the development of problem solving and spatial reasoning. As all of the activities are based around “Drag and Drop”, pupils will also develop their fine motor skills each time they use the app. The app is very easy to use and at the end of an activity a summary screen gives some feedback in the form of time taken, number of moves made and the optimum number of moves that would successfully complete the activity. At the “Easy” level, a single line of symmetry is used in the activities and a “Show Me” feature provides an assistive animation to help a pupil understand what is required in the activity.
At the higher levels additional lines of symmetry are introduced and the range of counters used increases.These additional, colourful geometric counters would also provide the resourceful teacher with a number of other teaching opportunities to further investigate the properties of the counters themselves– sides, angles and so on.
The “Free Play” activity includes a snapshot tool to allow pupils to capture their work. This feature would tie in nicely where pupils keep a digital portfolio during the school year.
The app would work really effectively in many different class-management styles, from whole class to group work or individual work. And there’s even more! Teachers who purchase the app from the iTunes store are eligible to register for the online Whiteboard version. The app information screen has an activation code that can be used when a teacher goes to register for access to the Whiteboard version.
This is a great app that will provide pupils of all academic abilities with opportunities to explore symmetry in an enjoyable and enthralling manner. And it will sharpen the skills of their teachers also! Just test yourself on the Hard Level in the Rotational Symmetry activity!