Saturday, December 3, 2011

XtraMath: A Site to ❤

I was visiting one of my favorite blogs when I came across the website XtraMath.  Kristen has such great resources and she chatted up this math resource so much that I had to immediately check it out.  I liked what I saw and created an account for my classroom.  While I am not a fan of kill and drill, I do think it is incredibly important that children know there facts well.  We all have situations where we need to add 'on our feet' and in order to protect ourselves and financial security ... fact fluency is important. 

The website makes it easy to sign up and create a classroom.  It is easy for children to sign into.  And they can access it on any device.  I was quite pleased that my kiddos could complete XtraMath activities on the iPod.  Kiddos can also complete XtraMath at home.  Teachers can print out flyers that provide parents with the information they need to set up the home computer for their child to easily access XtraMath.  My kiddos were incredibly excited about going home to 'play'!

In addition to the ease of use are the friendly progress reports.  This is a report for one of my kiddos from yesterday.  He was able to complete two activities.  The report show which facts he got correct and incorrect.  It also shows which facts he knows in 3 seconds or less (☺) and which he ran out of time (⌛) to answer.  Data is shown in a couple of other ways as well.  There is a chart that shows which facts have been mastered as well as a line graph that charts the child's progress over time.  The nice thing about the reports is that they get emailed to the teacher and parent directly.  The reports make it easier for me to decide when a child is ready to move on to the next type of computation.

XtraMath has some quick and easy video tutorials on their homepage for teachers, parents, and students.  It even suggests one way for it to be managed in the classroom.  My classroom is a workshop model and so my students are engaged in a mini - lesson, independent work, and then a wrap-up.  The indpendent work time is when I have them engaged in a Have-To, an activity or task that has to be completed before they move on to a Choose-To.  The Have-Tos take on many forms that include blogging, art activities, games, and/or worksheets.  Once they have completed the Have-To they are able to choose another activity, a Choose-To.  Originally, I was going to have XtraMath as a Choose-To, but because I value fact fluency it is going to be a Have-To 2.  In other words, before the kiddos can do a Choose-To they need to complete at least one XtraMath activity.

I am really excited to see the progress of their fact fluency and look forward to passing that excitement on to them!