A nonprofit in Tulsa that works with low-income and refugee children experienced amazing results using the Elephant Learning app. On average, all the students in the program learned an average of 1.25 years of math by using the app for 23 minutes per week during the beta testing period.
We talked to Laura, one of the nonprofit administrators, to learn more about her experience with Elephant Learning and her students’ response to the app.
Taking Math Out of the ClassroomT.O.U.C.H. Tulsa was originally formed to help a low-income, oft-forgotten community in Tulsa through after-school programming funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant. The after-school program, called The Zone Academy and now in its 12th year, is an enrichment program. That means T.O.U.C.H. Tulsa partners with schools to provide children with auxiliary learning experiences that complement what they’re already learning in the classroom. The Zone is STEAM-based, so it provides learning experiences focused on science, technology, engineering, art and math. During an average afternoon in the program, a child enjoys some recreation time and snacks, alongside homework time and tutoring.
Before working with the Elephant Learning app, children at The Zone would have math sessions, though those sessions weren’t referred to as a traditional “math class.” According to Laura, she and her team didn’t want to mirror children’s experiences in school, where they just sat down and did some math problems.
Instead, The Zone incorporates math, science, engineering and other STEAM concepts into hands-on activities.
The Needs: Effective, User-Friendly, CustomizableLast year, Laura says, her supervisor and the program director came across Elephant Learning while searching through different math apps that could be used as part of Zone curriculum. She and her colleagues wanted a math app that was:
Effective: The students would increase their math skills.User-friendly: An app that the students could use on their own, via an iPad or computer. With a large number of students, the app needed to be easy to use.Customizable: The app needed to be easy to use, but robust enough that the exercises could be individualized to each student.Out of all the math learning apps and resources they came across, Elephant Learning was the most user-friendly and convenient, allowing the kids to just tap and go.
Elephant Learning Makes the GradeCurrently, students are using the Elephant Learning app on their individual iPads. App usage is incorporated into the program’s homework time, so, after a student finishes their homework during that allotted time period, they can go play on the Elephant Learning app. It’s simple and easy for them to use; all they have to do is look for their name and start playing.
Last year, 60 students were using the program, first through third grade. This semester, 100 students are using the program, from pre-K to sixth grade.
Engagement Equals Enhanced ComprehensionAccording to Laura, last year all the kids who used the Elephant Learning app “really loved it.” In fact, she said, they couldn’t get some kids to stop! They would have played the app 20, 30 or 40 minutes if allowed. All in all, the kids were engaged and they were having fun.
As for Laura and her team, they were very impressed with the variety of activities the app offered to children, so there was always a game that matched each individual child’s interests and abilities. They also appreciated that they could go into the app and see how much time children were spending on activities, how much they accomplished each day and where they were at any given moment with their math comprehension.
Many of the Zone students advanced significantly using the Elephant Learning app and ended up two or three years ahead of their starting math comprehension level.