How I Use It
DreamBox is an adaptive program that meets students' needs where they are currently. I use it for all of my students, who are students that failed our State assessment last year. We utilize DreamBox one day each week for 45 minutes, and the students are encouraged to use it at home as well. I am not allowed to take it for a grade/assign for homework as we have to ensure that ALL students have the same opportunity to complete it, and not all of my students have a computer at home. I wish that DreamBox had the ability to be completed on Android tablets/phones, but as of now, they do not.
I LOVE DreamBox! It has helped my students immensely. My students this year aren't as interested as the past students, but that will ebb and flow from year to year. They don't like that they seem to get stuck on one particular "type" of lesson, and it stays with them forever, so they get burned out. I do wish there was a way to unassign lessons for those that they aren't ready for yet. I can assign certain lessons--what we might be covering in class at that moment--but I cannot unassign them. I love that they have little 30-second brain break games for every 2 lessons completed. The students will work toward getting the game, even though it's super short. There is a Spanish version if needed, and the computer will read the directions.
What I don't like is that there isn't any instruction. If the kids don't immediately know how to do it, they end up "failing" that lesson, and the adaptive program will drop them to a lower level to build back up to that previous lesson. Sometimes it may just be a problem of figuring out the manipulatives that are given...or maybe not understanding what they are wanting. It would be super easy to show how to complete a lesson, including how the dials, buttons, etc. work with some instruction. Many teachers don't help their students at all and call it productive struggle and just let the program work it's adaptive magic. I don't like doing that when I know it's something they know how to do. I will walk them through the first part of the lesson if they ask. However, I teach middle school, so that could be part of the difference.
As the teacher, I have the ability to see what the students are working on. I also have the ability to show a sample lesson to a small group and/or whole class by projecting it. If I notice many students are stuck on how a certain lesson works, I can show that lesson and explain how to manipulate the dials or whatever they are getting stuck on.
All in all, I have seen MANY online math programs, some free, some paid. DreamBox is by far the best one I've ever seen or purchased. It's relatively engaging, I can track students progress, I can see exactly what they are working on, and I can see where they need help.