TOS Crew: Mathletics

When the TOS Homeschool Crew received a 45-day subscription to the Mathletics website, I was excited. I had already signed up for the free one-week  American Math Challenge, but with the TOS subscription our girls were able to explore the site before the Math Challenge began. (And a good thing, too, but more about that later.)

American Math Challenge

I didn’t really “get” this. I’m not sure if there’s an explanation in an email I missed, or something. Students and classrooms all over the country seemed to be racking up points somehow, and yet a big part of the Math Challenge seemed to be playing games (“problem solving” section?) that didn’t seem to generate points. It appeared that you got points by answering the questions in the “Practice” section, or engaging in live math contests (sort of like fact drill races).

(Technical difficulties)

I guess that the points students earned were applied towards the American Math Challenge, but our girls weren’t motivated to try in that competition, as they weren’t able to start until late Wednesday (even with a couple of phone calls for technical help on Monday and Tuesday, though I must say the tech folks at Mathletics were sympathetic and did their best to be helpful). For some reason their passwords would get them into Mathletics, but not into the American Math Challenge, so that by the time they were finally able to access the American Math Challenge they felt like there was no way to catch up–hopelessly behind, in other words.

World Math Day

In addition to the American Math Challenge in November, Mathletics hosts World Math Day in March. I’ve heard exciting things about World Math Day but can’t tell you anything from personal experience about it. Yet.

Practice, Problem Solving, Live Competition

As for Mathletics, there are three sections we’ve been working through:

– the Practice section, which allows the student to practice grade-appropriate math concepts. From what I’ve seen in our daughters’ accounts, there are ten main subject areas, and each of these is further broken down into sub-areas, ten questions in each sub-area. Looking at the sixth-grade screen today, I clicked on the “Decimals” topic, and got a list of sub-topics where the student will manipulate decimal numbers by comparing, adding, subtracting, multiplying, estimating, etc. Within each subtopic you answer ten questions. You get points for right answers, and if you get 100% you win a “gold bar”. If you don’t get 100% you can repeat the sub-topic and see different though related questions.

The Problem Solving section involves math games. You don’t gain points through solving these problems, but the reward comes with a short cartoonish video at the end of the game when you win.

Live Competition is available at the click of the mouse. Your student can choose to compete against one or more other students drawn from all over the world. It was fascinating to think of all these other people “in school” at the same time that we are, even in New Zealand on the other side of the world! As I watched, I saw our daughters spurred to answer math facts faster and faster, beating their own record even when they didn’t win against others. Of course, it was a real ego boost when they did win.

Spending points

What do you do with the points you earn? You get to spend them in the avatar store. You see, when you first register, you get to pick a figure (girl or boy) with a few basic choices in dress, hair style, accessories, and backgrounds.

As you accumulate points, you can spend them to vary your avatar’s appearance. Our girls really get into this kind of thing, and evidently other students do, too–we get to see their avatars during live competitions, and they can be quite striking in appearance.

Points accumulate on a weekly basis, and a running total of top point-earners appears on the main page.

A subscription to Mathletics is $59 (accessible 7 days a week, 24 hours a day for 12 months) per student. Mentioning the Human Calculator’s favorite number (9) when you sign up gets you $10 off. There’s a 10-day money-back guarantee. Sign up at the Mathletics website. To put the cost in perspective: $49 is less than a dollar a week per student for math drill that is fun and motivating…

Wrap-up and final impressions

After the American Math Challenge was over, I encouraged the girls to try a little Mathletics drill in every day’s math session. Two out of three seemed to enjoy using the site, the third avoided using it unless Mom insisted. The two that enjoyed the site used it much differently. One liked doing the exercises, sort of like mini-quizzes (10 questions per section, a perfect score earns a gold bar, and you can ask for an explanation at any time by clicking the big question mark), while the other found these drove her crazy because there was a lot of repetition. She hates repetition. The Repetition-hater seemed to enjoy racing against other students all over the world, a race that drilled math facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The Mini-quiz Queen did not at all want to race against other students, but didn’t mind racing against the computer.

The third? Well, she avoids math as much as possible, so that she really didn’t spend much time at all on the Mathletics site. I’m going to try to make it part of her regular math time, though, as I find the drill really helps her jumpstart her brain for problem solving during her regular math lesson. Yes, we’ve decided to get three subscriptions (at the reduced price, hurrah) for the coming year, at least ten minutes a day just to get the math juices flowing. And if they do more just for fun? Well, that would be pretty amazing.

To read more TOS Crew reviews of Mathletics, click here.

Thanks to Erin from the Crew, here’s a link to a brochure with screen shots and more information about Mathletics.

Disclaimer: The TOS Homeschool Crew families were given 45 days of free access to Mathletics for every student in their families. Opinions shared here reflect our family’s experience.


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