Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2015
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Smart-EZE: Minutes A Day - Math, English, and Reading Comprehension Review

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Skill-and-drill tasks fine for practice, not so great for instruction

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
1-5
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Pros: After quizzes, students can correct wrong answers.

Cons: Younger students may struggle with different ways to answer (especially typing in answers) due to odd design.

Bottom Line: Comprehensive content serves as solid test practice for elementary grades.

It's marketed as an at-home summer program to avoid summer slump, and the lessons include material that may (or may not) be covered over the course of the entire year. Since there's no way to set which skills are assessed, this may be most helpful as an end-of-the-school-year recap or test prep or at the beginning of the school year (for the previous grade level) as a review.

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Teachers can set up accounts for up to five students on one device, customizing their grade level from first through fifth. Students then choose English, Reading, or Math from the choice wheel and progress through 30 lessons. Each lesson consists of workbook-style questions requiring a variety of response types: multiple-choice, drag-and-sort, highlighting, and short-answer. Kids see immediately whether they answered correctly or not and then get their percentage score at the end of the quiz. They can go back and redo incorrect questions. Both content-matter help and app help are available from within the quizzes in a brief text document.

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Smart-EZE covers a broad range of curriculum: English, reading, and math, each for grades 1 through 5. It's not clear, though, how that curriculum is aligned or sequenced. First-grade Lesson One questions jump right into place value, for example, which likely hasn't been taught early in the year. The MemoryBank is a slide-out tab that's like a textbook chapter on the concept, but it isn't available for every question, and students have to skim through pages of information before finding what relates to the question at hand. The progress reports do not show results by concept or skill, only by the trophy students earned (none, bronze, silver, gold, or platinum) based on their scores on each quiz. Overall, there's some good information here, but it's not well organized or easily accessed, and some strange interface issues -- such as the on-screen keyboard covering the questions while kids try to answer them -- mar the experience. 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Worksheet-style drill is pretty dry. Animated encouragement after correct answers may appeal to younger kids but annoy older students (it can be turned off in the settings).

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Students get immediate feedback on correct or incorrect answers and can redo missed questions once the quiz is completed. Kids can tap the graduation cap and glasses for help.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Track progress for up to five students per device, viewing charts of which trophies students have earned through the lessons. There's no breakdown by skill beyond math, English, or reading.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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