by Dan Daly

**SUBJECT AREA:** Arithmetic computation

**PUBLISHER:** IntelliTools, Inc.

(800)899-6687

**COST: ** $79.95

**NOTABLE SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:** Mac only, System 7.0 or higher, 4 MB of RAM, and at least a
14" $

**DESCRIPTION:** *MathPad* is a program for learning
and practicing all the basic operations of arithmetic. It is aimed
at students who cannot write at all or who cannot write in the
neatly aligned columns of numbers necessary for accurate and efficient computation. IntelliTools provides
interfaces to use *MathPad* with the *IntelliKeys* for students who need an assistive device
to use the computer. However, *MathPad* can also be operated
from the standard keyboard and mouse. This reviewer is familiar
with its use by a student who can type and use the mouse, but
who cannot write because of problems with spatio-motor coordination.

Arithmetic problems can be loaded into
*MathPad* very quickly. The teacher or even the student can enter the
problems in single line format (e.g., 4562/27), and the problem will
appear on the screen in vertical format. The student then moves
the cursor to the first entry point in the problem and clicks to
bring up a small entry box in which the student enters the
required digit. The cursor can be positioned by using the mouse,
the arrow keys on the keyboard, or arrow keys on the screen.

Other features that can be turned on at the user's option
are speech output and auto-navigation. The user can choose to
have the program speak each number as it is entered, each operation
as it is requested, and/or the entire problem. With
auto-navigation, the input box will move to the next logical entry location as
each digit is entered. Beginners usually benefit from
auto-navigation, but as skills increase, it should be turned off. One of the
benefits of *MathPad* is that the student must do everything that would
be necessary to solve an arithmetic problem on paper. The
student does not just enter digits. Rather, the student must first select
the location where a number is to be entered, or the location where
a carry or a borrow needs to be inserted, and only then enters
the number.

**STRENGTHS:** The outstanding feature of
*MathPad* is its ease of use. The student can enter the intermediate
calculations and the final answer just about as fast as someone working
with pencil and paper. Most importantly, the student must make all
the decisions. The computer does not help with anything except
the accurate placement of the numbers in the problem space. At
the student's request, a box will be provided above the numbers
for regrouping (carrying and borrowing digits). The
computer provides no answers to the problems. However, it will
mark problems on the Problem List as being correct, incorrect or
not done. Another example of ease of use that the teacher
will appreciate is the simple linear entry of problems as
described above. These can be quickly typed into the Problem List
window. Problems can also be imported from text files generated
by various word processing programs.

**WEAKNESSES:** The carry and borrow operations
can sometimes be confusing especially when doing an
extended borrow over several decimal places. However, most
students should get the hang of it after a little practice.

**SUMMARY:** *MathPad* is a very elegant solution to
the problem of teaching arithmetic to students who are unable
to write. It enables the student to do the problem in exactly
the same way as his or her classmates do it in their workbooks. It
is efficient for the teacher, who does not need to do any
complicated computer entries to create the problem lists, and it is
extremely helpful for the student who has difficulty with the mechanics
of handwriting. Students can get a lot of practice doing
required arithmetic problems with this easy-to-use, cost-effective
software program.

*Dan Daly is an engineer at Bellcore and the parent of a child with
a disability.*

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