Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Review: Mathletics

As we progress through this year on the Homeschool Crew, I realize how fortunate I am to have a son that enjoys math.  There certainly seem to be a lot of products out there devoted to making math more fun (or at least tolerable) for students.  Our latest review product was a subscription to Mathletics , a website that helps students around the world learn and drill mathmatics.

Because this is an online service there are certain minimum requirements

  1. Windows XP/Vista or Mac OS 10.4 and above

  2. 512 MB of RAM

  3. Internet Explorer (7 or above) or Mozilla Firefox (2 or above)

  4. The latest Adobe Flashplayer

  5. Broadband internet connection preferred (we were able to use this fine with dial-up)

The annual subscription for one student is $59.  (DEAL--if you know the human calculator's favorite number is 9 you can save $10)

After subscribing, you set up your student: creating his or her own avatar, and assigning a grade level.  A word of caution: be sure to review the curriclum under the "About Mathletics" tab on their website to get an idea where to place your student.  I set up Fritz as a 1st grader to match where he would be assigned, based on his age, if he were in public school.  But as homeschoolers we know that our students can be doing 3rd grade math and 1st grade spelling.  Fritz is currently working on adding columns of 4 digit numbers, so the 1st grade "1 + 3" questions were absurdly too easy for him.  You can adjust grade levels for you student, but only a limited number of times. 

Fritz enjoyed the "work at your own pace" portion of site.  Most of his questions involved pointing and clicking at one of the possible answers.  (He's really in a gameshow mood right now and this reminded him of Who Wants to be a Millionaire).   Using a mouse is much easier for him than hunting and pecking keys.  The screens were colorful and he enjoyed watching his progress on the side meter.

The whole program seems to be incentive driven--he could earn certificates after earning a certain number of points.  Reaching certain point levels also unlock new features.  They can also "purchase" items for their avatar--new hair styles or sunglasses, etc.  Fritz doesn't play online or video games so the whole avatar feature held no appeal for him.  He accepted the standard model and didn't even try to make it look like himself.

As the teacher/parent, I was able to log on with my own password and see reports on Fritz's activities--when and how long he was logged on, which activities he tried and his scores,  and the number of points he scored.   There was a separate report that showed his strengths and weaknesses. It requires a sufficient amount of activity to determine  what these are.  When I had Fritz as a 1st grader it always said insufficient data under the weaknesses (he was getting 100s on everything).

This is a bit pricey for our budget and since Fritz is already excelling in math I don't think we will be subscribing at this time.  If you have a student that needs a little more "fun factor" in math you may want to give Mathletics a try.   It may also appeal to those with a competitive streak -- there is a daily listing of top scorers from around the world.

To see what my fellow crewmates think of Mathletics, click here.

Note: I received a free 45 day subscription to Mathletics for the purposes of completing this review.  I received no other compensation.

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