## Wednesday, December 16, 2009

### Mathletics

If you need to re-energize your child's interest in mathematics you might try Mathletics. Toted on their site, www.mathletics.com, as "America's no. 1 Math website", subscription based Mathletics promises to challenge K-8 math students through the spirit of competition while they learn. As a member of TOS Review Crew I received a free 45 day subscription to Mathletics to use with my 7th grade daughter in exchange for this review.

We began our experience with Mathletics by registering Micah on the site. She created a personalized avatar complete with skin tone, eyes, mouth, hair, clothes, hat and accessories to represent her while on-line. Micah signed up to be a part of Team USA represented with a little US flag icon to the left of her avatar. Mathletics is used by millions of students worldwide.

We discovered Mathletics 7th grade curriculum covered the topics of:

* Decimals
* Number Theory
* Integers
* Multiply and Divide Fractions
* Pre-Algebra
* Geometry
* Measurement
* Ratio, Proportion and Percent
* Data, Probability, and Statistics

Micah used Mathletics independently during our testing period. She began each session by choosing a topic to study, then completing 10 practice problems designed to test her skill and ability to solve problems related to the topic. If she completed all ten correctly she was rewarded with a cute little cartoon of a young girl in a pink convertible racing to the center of the screen raising her arms in victory plus a coveted gold bar. Sound effects of cheering accompanied the scene providing a fun way to end a study session.

To enhance the serious aspect of Micah's results, she only needed to scroll down the last screen to view a copy of all practice problems attempted complete with answers. If she happened to miss a problem or two they were marked with an X instead of a check mark. Clicking on the "support" button in the upper right hand corner of each box containing a problem, linked to a new web page with a cartoon character standing in front of a blackboard ready to explain on the board how to solve the problem. At this screen Micah could chose to view additional examples of varying difficulty levels for each of the missed concepts. Incorporating a cartoon visual with concept review kept the program light-hearted, interesting and fun for her.

When Micah answered all 10 of her practice problems correctly requiring no review she clicked back to the menu. The menu page allowed her to view all topics for the 7th grade curriculum and her progress in studying each of them. Since she had just completed one of the sections of Geometry as she showed me how to use Mathletics, it displayed a gold bar with the word "perfect" written across to show all practice problems had been answered correctly. On the menu page I noted some of her previous attempts at other topics were marked with a red bar that said, "great work" instead of the desired gold bar. The red bar designated her need for more practice with the topic before she could answer all 10 questions correctly and earn the "perfect" gold bar.

Micah completed all sections of the Geometry section and chose to take the final test. The test consisted of 16 problems and once completed awarded her the same cheers and cartoon character hurrah. Clicking back to the main menu we noted it then displayed she had completed the entire geometry section and earned another gold bar for her efforts. I liked the fact Mathletics was not concerned with speed as much as accuracy. The curriculum taught to excellence and rewarded Micah accordingly with points, gold bar rewards and certificates.

Mathletics awards certificates for points earned for answering problems correctly. This incentive keeps students working towards a goal even when the math topic proves to be a bit challenging. Once Micah earned 1,000 points she received a bronze certificate. If she earned 5 bronze certificates in a week she would also earn a silver certificate. Four silver certificates within the week awarded her a gold certificate. Micah's two bronze certificates earned during the last week of our review period could be viewed on a specially designed web page called the "Bronze Cafe" and were easily printed for record keeping and encouragement.

When asked her opinion of Mathletics Micah said, "It's fun and easy to get used to. The program was really self-explanatory. I liked that the no. 1 player of the week is ranked and you can be listed on the web page for it. They rank top 100 students and top 50 schools from all over the world; that is also very cool".

Micah took advantage of an additional problem solving section for 7th grade students on the Mathletics website. Problem solving consisted of games for the math minded providing a break from regular curriculum study and competition. Micah played "Mind Twister" similar to a memory matching game with four levels of difficulty. The game challenged players to use logical reasoning to solve puzzles. She earned another gold bar for completing all four levels of Mind Twister; placing her one step closer to the 92 bars needed to complete grade 7 requirements.

Mathletics has a comprehensive Parent Centre accessible only through a parent log in with user name and password. The Parent Centre offers complete student and parent books in PDF format which can be printed one page at a time or in their entirety. Parent books include answers to the student workbooks, assessments and an outcomes or standards section. The workbooks are encouraged by Mathletics to "support on-line content to help children reach that light bulb moment".

A one year subscription to www.mathletics.com can be purchased for \$59.00 on the site. Subscriptions are for one child for the year and cannot be shared. When you consider the quality and content of the site, plus additional workbooks for further study included I believe Mathletics is a good investment especially for students lacking motivation for math. Mathletics offers a 10 day money back guarantee if customers are not completely satisfied.

Mathletics is great for homeschoolers since it encourages independent study while teaching to mastery. Students set their own pace and of course the site is accessible 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week wherever internet access can be found. Mathletics' fresh approach and techie appeal guarantee kids will want to keep pace with their math studies.