Common Sense Review
Updated April 2016

DreamBox Learning Math

Individualized, game-based math adapts to kids' needs
Common Sense Rating 4
  • Lessons are straightforward and often accept multiple solution methods.
  • Video game-style achievements might motivate some kids to complete more lessons.
  • The teacher dashboard gives fine-grained detail about student progress.
  • The K–2 interface is cluttered and confusing, with little guidance of what various activities entail.
  • Elementary curriculum uses trusted, research-proven pedagogy.
The adaptive technology is quite good, and lessons often make use of inquiry-based teaching strategies that focus on meaning rather than procedures.
The interface for K–2 kids is very cluttered and confusing, students need individual access to computers, and the game-based learning may grow old quickly.
Bottom Line
This is a pretty nice all-in-one solution for extra math support and practice with solid adaptive tech, but students might need help with the interface.
Galen McQuillen
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

The interface is well-crafted but occasionally a bit busy (or, for K–2 kids, distracting and confusing). Still, within learning experiences it's unobtrusive and functional. The game-driven strategy might grow old quickly.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

The adaptive tech tailors learning to students' needs with familiar but challenging tasks, while teaching styles make use of some Montessori-like discovery and manipulative learning. For older kids, it might be a bit too close to worksheets.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Feedback is immediate and meaningful for students in adapting their play. For players who become stuck, help is offered, and the material adjusts if it gets too difficult. Parents and teachers can stay informed via a dashboard and email reports.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Generally, DreamBox is great for individual practice rather than learning new content or doing collaborative work. Within that constraint, there are many ways in which DreamBox Learning Math can be used with students. In the classroom, students can access their individual accounts from a lab or class set of computers, freeing the teacher up to work with a small group while providing the rest of the class with meaningful individualized practice. Students could also use the program to practice at home.

The individualized pace and adaptiveness of the program means that students are working at their current skill level, even if that level is below or above a student's actual grade level. This could be particularly good for students who are below grade level or who are advanced and need a challenge or extension. Younger kids (K–2) will need some help navigating the confusing and cluttered interface to get to lessons, so it's best used with a parent, teacher, or mentor supervising. 


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What's It Like?

DreamBox Learning Math is an interactive, adaptive, self-paced program that provides engaging activities for students to learn and practice skills in mathematics. It's available for both web-based and iPad platforms, and student progress is tracked across both. Teachers and parents create accounts for individual students, and then select the child's grade level (kindergarten through eighth grade). From there, DreamBox selects a series of lessons and activities for the child to complete.

As the tasks are completed (or if they become too difficult), the program adapts with new activities. There are three versions: Primary (K-2), Intermediate (3-5), and Middle School (6-8). Each employs avatars that the players select for themselves and offers a game-like atmosphere to hold players' interest. DreamBox also provides the Insights Dashboard, which gives teachers, administrators, and parents access to reports on progress and mastery for each student (for skills and standards). The developer is currently implementing a feature that will give teachers control to create their own assignments as well.

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Is It Good For Learning?

This comprehensive mathematics program covers a wide range of subjects and skills at each grade level. One of the strengths of the program is that players can progress through the skills and activities of different grade levels, regardless of their actual grade level. This means that students who need review or a challenge may work at the appropriate level for their own abilities. 

There are many standout games and activities at each level, including the 10-frame lessons in the primary levels and the intermediate lessons on fractions in the real world. The various modeling tools (arrays, 10 frames, number lines) are excellent. The Insights Dashboard is also a useful tool to help teachers spot struggling learners. DreamBox Learning Math has good potential; it's engaging and appealing, it contains sound mathematical content and solid teaching strategies, and it might promote independent learning for some kids.

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