"If a child can't learn the way we teach,
maybe we should teach the way they learn." ~Ignacio Estrada
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Xtra Math revisited
This is a site that I have written about before, but that I have just started using again for this school year. Although I've written about it before, I know that there are still lots of people that haven't heard of it, so I thought it would be a good idea to revisit it.
XtraMath.org is an AWESOME site to help students master their basic math facts. I use it in conjunction with Otter Creek's Mastering Math Facts program (Rocket Math). Xtramath 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.
The defaults when setting up your class are: K/1- addition only, 2nd graders also get subtraction, 3rd graders also do multiplication, 4/5 also does division. These are the presets and can be changed to accomodate your gifted learners or those that need their fact practice modified for additional practice in earlier operations.
I've used this site with my son as well, so I can attest to the fact that it is easy for parents to access at home. 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 facts 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 progress over time, something that I'm excited to see. The practice sessions are short, about 15-25 problems. When a child finishes their session it also shows them a color coded table so that they can see how many problems they knew quickly (smiley face), which ones they knew but took a little extra time (green check mark), which ones they took too long on, and which ones they got wrong (red x). This has been eye opening as well as motivating for my students. Keep in mind that it takes younger students a bit of time to just get used to key placement when answering the problems so don't be alarmed that it is taking them longer than you'd like. Last year and this year, I found that it took my kiddos about a week to get the hang of it and for the results to be more accurate to what their capabilities truly were.
From the teacher perspective, 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 are lucky enough to have more than one computer in your room. This code allows the computers to sync to each other so to speak so that each student will only get picked one time despite using more than one computer. Currently I am accessing 6 netbooks in my classroom which is allowing all my students to get through their practice in a very short period of time.
Another awesome aspect 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 child's progress. The reports are easy to read and easy to access as well. It's a great way to monitor fact practice for RTi purposes and really does help with parental conversations as all of the information is there for both of us to see and discuss.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention, that each week you will recieve an email report showing how your kiddos are doing as well. Super cool!
If you haven't tried this site out with your class, I HIGHLY recommend it. You won't be disappointed!