Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Subscription Based Websites For Math: Mathletics $$

Subscription Based Websites

For the second summer in a row, I attended the GAFE Summit in Calgary. One of the sessions I went to was Emily Fitzpatrick's session: Not Your Momma's Math Class - Elementary. It got me thinking about what subscription based websites I wanted to invest my time (and sometimes money) in that support the grade two math curriculum for the upcoming school year. This the first blog post in a series of (number to be determined).


Series

  1. Mathletics
  2. Prodigy
  3. EDpuzzle coming soon

Mathletics

I have used Mathletics for the past seven years or so. The subscriptions have been school-wide. It has been a well used resource in my class. I like it because you can differentiate and assign tasks. Most students like it because of the "Live Math" feature. 

How I Use It

In September, I have (ask the staff member who administers Mathletics) the assigned passwords changed to be the same as the district passwords students have. The usernames are not changeable. I hide all content (under Courses) from students. These will be the assigned tasks that I will use, so I do not want some students completing them ahead of time. I also initially turn off Times Tables (these are songs). 

At the beginning of the year, I do a few whole class lessons to teach how to use Mathletics. Students are prompted when they first log in to customize an avatar. I give them about five minutes and then explain this will now be an "at home" task. I then show them how to access Live Math and allow them time to play a few games. I show them the games in the Problem Solving area, again I allow them some exploration time. As well, I show them Rainforest Maths and allow them to play a few games.

The second time we do Mathletics as a whole class, students are assigned a task. I demonstrate how students can have the words read to them. This is when they learn that all other activities (Live Math, Rainforest Maths, etc) are locked to them until they complete their assigned tasks. Once they have completed their assignment, students are then free to go onto other parts of Mathletics.

In the Results section, I get to see how each student did on the various assigned tasks. The majority of the time, students truly try their best on a task. Occasionally I have a student who I know is capable score 0 or something similar on repeated tasks. They typically click through the assignment to get to Live Math. After a conversation and continued monitoring this promptly stops.

Once I feel students are independent, Mathletics becomes a regular centre in math. It also is something I can easily leave for supply teachers. Students get to take their username and password home and are free to use Mathletics at anytime. I have learned that as a result of this practice, I need to set assignments in the morning of the day I want to use them. As I mentioned above, you can differentiate. Students can receive different assignments at different levels.

Once a unit is complete, I show (turn on) access to the topic under the Courses setting. Typically many of the activities have been completed during centre time, but not all of them. Students are now free to redo activities and/or complete any activities that were not assigned. Near the end of the year I turn on the Times Table Tunes for students (and provide them time to listen to them) to get them excited about what they will learn in grade three.

What I Did Before Mathletics

Before my school had Mathletics, I would use a wide variety of free game-based math websites for centres. What I like about Mathletics is that it saves me time and it holds students accountable (they know I can see their progress). I no longer have to spend time finding math websites (I actually still do, but to a lesser extent) that relate to the current topic for centre work. I also do not have to spend time teaching students how to use new websites each time we do centres because they are already familiar with Mathletics. As well, I have found students are less likely to be off-task.

So, Is It Worth It?

I started with the question is Mathletics a website I want to invest my time and my school's money? Yes, as a division one teacher, this has been a great resource.