Saturday, January 14, 2012

Xtra Math

It never fails...every year my students come to school suffering from the "summer drip." The "drip" is especially apparent when it comes to their basic math facts. Conceptually, they understand that 5+7=12, and 3 * 9 is three 9s or nine 3s. But when it's time to sit down, get serious, and rattle off those facts like a machine gun, more often than not they can be seen sheepishly working their little "finger calculators" under the desk.
     If you have any experience with the Everyday Math curriculum, you know that time is extremely valuable, and, although there is some Math Fact practice built into the program, it's really not enough to help those students who need that daily practice that has proven to be the best way to learn math facts: daily short bursts. That's where XtraMath comes in. I can't remember where I first heard of the program (perhaps Richard Byrne, Larry Ferlazzo, or Ilearn Technology), but I started the program mid-September.
     Here's how it works. You assign the kids to a specific program. The default program is Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division. Next, they take a pre-test in their program. After that, they just log in (at home or at school) and solve the given facts as quickly as possible. The program adjusts what problems the student sees based on need. Each session takes about 5-10 minutes. The students are able to see their progress on Math Fact grid after each session. Green squares are mastered facts, yellow are facts they need to work on, and white squares mean they will get to those facts later. There's also a substantial amount of progress data for the teacher as well (the two images on the right).
     Check this program out when you get a chance. The data that this program has collected for me proves that it works. It might not be right for every student though. For example, the program qualifies mastery as getting the answer correct in less than 3 seconds. I agree with the level of proficiency, but there are some students who get very anxious when you put a timer in front of them. I would like the option to increase the mastery timing. Other than that, I have been very pleased with XtraMath. Set up is easy, so get started today.
     What do you use in your classroom for math fact practice? Flash cards? Rocket Math?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Chris! I've been looking for a program like this. I'm excited to try it with my class. I'll let you know how it goes...