Thursday, December 3, 2009
Review: Mathletics by 3P Learning
In an effort to keep math learning fun and interesting, I've tried out various computer-based math products for my two children. There certainly isn't a shortage of such products and I've reviewed several in the past. Mathletics is different than others I've experienced. First of all, I had never heard of it before being on the TOS Crew. Secondly, it is the first math product that both of my children have requested with batting eyes to continue, even the older child who has declared math evil.
What is it?
Mathletics is a subscription based math program for grades K-8. It has several components to it, including a full curriculum, live challenges, and games. Also included in the subscription price is Rainforest Maths, an interactive program for grades K-6.
How do students use it?
Students have several options once they log in. They can play games, work some lessons, or do live drills with other students.
The curriculum's lessons are based on the child's registered grade and are presented as practice and problem solving. For the practice portion, topics are broken down into 10 questions. If the student gets all 10 right, they earn a gold bar. The problem solving section is a little more interactive. For example, a student may be given blocks to manipulate on the screen to assist in getting the correct answer. Games are also available to solidify the concepts taught in the lessons. If the lessons are too easy or too hard, parents can adjust the grade level of the student.
Students can also complete lessons using a separate area called Rainforest Maths, which has 30 (K) to 200 (6th) activities per level. Each grade has activities in four areas: Number, Measurement, Algebra and Space (geometry).
Aside from the doing interactive lessons and games, students have the opportunity for live 60-second competitions with other users around the world. Speed and accuracy are the objective as students race to be the first across the finish line. Three incorrect answers get competitors disqualified from the race. The drills are on basic math facts and a great way to improve automaticity.
Another fun element is the ability to earn points and spending coins for various activities. The home page also has a listing of top performers based on points earned for public recognition. The coins can be used to purchase various accessories (hats, sunglasses, backgrounds) for the student's custom-designed avatar. Certificates can also be earned when reaching certain point levels.
What is available for parents?
Parents get their own login and password for access to the Parent Centre. In this area, instant workbooks are available for download. The workbook levels are K through Year 12, but not all levels and workbooks are available yet. The higher levels seem to be more complete at this time, with some of them having 20+ workbooks available in both student and parent versions.
Parents can also look up the progress of their students in the Parent Centre, viewing past weekly reports and certificates earned. The weekly reports, which can also be emailed, include the amount of time spent at the site, points earned, activities performed, and scores achieved.
What are our thoughts?
I have to say that I was quite surprised at the reaction of my kids. They both have tried a variety of online math programs, some successful and others not. None have had the appeal of this one.
My daughter, almost 13, gave me an eyeroll when I told her I had a new math program for her to try. She sat down to try it with a less-than-enthusiastic attitude. However, when I tried to get her to sign off to move on to another task for the day, she kept telling me "hold on". Excuse me? Is my math disliking daughter telling me to "hold on" because she wants to continue doing math drill? That alone is enough for this program to impress me. My daughter's assessment of this program is that it is "strangely addicting". The live competition was a complete draw and I found her signing on to compete with other kids around the world during her own free time.
My son had a similar reaction. He can be rather slow at math facts, but it was completely motivating racing live against other kids. He discovered that he was really whipping the others in multiplication facts, but had to work harder with other facts. I liked that answers had to be accurate to avoid disqualifying, since my son tends to be a guesser. Racing against students in other parts of the world made it more exciting and I'd often get reports of what countries the competitors of the day were from.
My son seemed to like the lesson portion better than my daughter, but both were willing to complete them without many grumbles. Because the live competition was such a big draw, I would have my kids do a lesson or two prior to being able to race against other users. Never would I have thought that I could have used math drill as a reward for completing lessons! My son was motivated to keep doing a lesson to earn a gold bar (100%). This was great to get in the repetition needed for mastery without complaints.
I really liked the information available in the Parent Centre. It is broken down into two components: Mathletics and Full Curriculum. Parents are given the number of correct answers and an accuracy percentage for Mathletics, as well as the level (1-5) the student worked in. For the Full Curriculum, activities completed, date, and score are given. I could see when and how many times an activity was performed, starting scores, and when a 100% was earned.
I wasn't able to utilize the instant workbooks during the review period, but was pleased with the looks of them and the amount available.
Both of my kids asked if their subscription could continue after our review period. Folks - that just doesn't happen in our household. While I have found products that have been effective with both of my very different math learners, never have they both actually requested such a program. The main appeal was the Mathletics competition portion, but the variety of the lessons and games kept the rest from being too drab. The added elements of earning points and getting coins to buy items for the avatar kept motivation high.
My oldest is doing algebra, but there was still benefit of her going through the lessons. The live competitions are great for increasing the speed of her computational skills. The instant workbooks have more difficult material, up through Year 12. The material is an appropriate level for my 5th grader, with a mixture of review and new material. I don't know that I would use this as a full curriculum, but it certainly is a great value as a supplemental product. There is such variety on this site - with interactive lessons, games, and workbook downloads. I also like that there are no extra downloads and only access to the internet is needed. The only downside I see is that each student needs to have their own account, which could be costly for large families.
A 1-year subscription runs $59 per student and comes with a 10-day money back guarantee. For a limited time, if you enter in the Human Calculator's favorite number (9), you can get a reduced rate of $49.95. Visit the Mathletics site, http://www.mathletics.com/, for more information or to subscribe.
Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew's blog to read more reviews on this product and others.
Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result in my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew, a team of 100+ homeschooling parents. While the product was provided at no expense to me in order to provide this review, I have not received any other compensation. Furthermore, receipt of the product does not guarantee a positive review. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.