Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Basic math facts

Sorry, for not being around much last week, things here have been absolutely crazy. I am gearing up for report cards, planning next year's curriculum map, thinking about 21st century learning skills and technology integration and generally just getting wrapped up in the excitement of what next year will bring. I have been surfing all over the web and using my PLN on twitter to find and investigate a myriad of tools and research. Anyone out there on twitter? If so, look me up- my twitter name is smalchow. I'd love to expand my PLN with others who teach early primary and/or embed technology into their curriculum.

Over the weekend I finally got a chance to dig in to a site that someone recommended to me, Xtramath is run by a nonprofit organization and is a FREE, ad free website to help kids master their basic math facts. (I love the fact that it is ad free!!)It is very easy to use and is set up in such a way that your students can practice at school as well as at home! The site has separate logins for school/home and videos  to explain how the site works for both parents and teachers.  Entering your class takes only a few minutes and is as simple as entering your students' first names, the site will then assign your students a pin number for logging in. Xtramath has also done the legwork for you by preparing a personalized form letter for each of your students with an enrollment code that parents use to set up their home account. The developer even has his email on the note so that if parents have issues, they will contact him directly and not you.  I added my son to my class list so that I could experience the site as both a teacher and a parent and have found it easy to use from both viewpoints.

From the parent viewpoint, I am able to see which facts my son knew and didn't know.  The fact table is color coded to show which fact he answered quickly (within 3 seconds), which he answered correctly but took too long (4-10 seconds), and which he didn't know (either got wrong or ran out of time). It also tracks their progress over time, something that I'm excited to see. We've only been using it for 3 days.
My son, being a digital native, is pretty excited about using the computer to help him learn his facts versus using his flashcards or paper pencil practice. The practice sessions are short- about 15 problems.  He was excited engaged enough to want to do 2 sessions, after that it told him that he did a good job and to come back tomorrow. When he finished each session it also gave him a color coded table so that he could see how many problems he knew quickly (smiley face), which ones he knew but took a little extra time (green check mark), which ones he took too long on, and which ones he got wrong (red x). This was very eye opening for him and motivating as well.

From the teacher perspective I think I love it all the more! Students come to the computer, do their practice, and when done the site will randomly pick the next student for that child to tap. If they are busy or absent there is a button that they click and the computer will pick a new student. There is also a code you can enter if you have more than one computer to sync them so that each student will only get picked one time despite using more than one computer.
The other awesome thing I love is that I have access to all of my students' progress records from both school AND home. It is a great way to watch each kiddos progress. The reports are easy to read and easy to access as well.

I am excited to see what this site will do for my kids over the course of a few weeks. So far, my son has asked to get on every day this week. Even if you don't utilize the at home portion of this site, I think the reports will be extremely helpful to show progress or lack of progress to parents. I am also hoping that it will be beneficial for RTI meetings as well for my struggling kiddos.
There's so much more I could tell you but the site will do a better job of walking you through the features and benefits. If you try it out, let me know what you think. I'm sure I'll be chatting about this site again once we've been using it for a bit of time.

1 comment:

  1. I just began using XtraMath as well with my first graders. I really like it and have several students who are using is at home, too. :)