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DreamBox Learning Math
Pros: Inquiry-based learning focuses on concepts rather than procedures.
Cons: K–2 students may need support with the interface and games, at least initially. Challenging to see student's view via teacher login dashboard.
Bottom Line: Great all-in-one program for math support and practice, with somewhat accurate adaptive tech.
DreamBox Learning Math suggests an attainable five-lessons-per-week goal. Activities are short and can be repetitive, so they could work well as a warm-up or exit ticket from class. In the classroom, students can access their 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.
Teachers can also change the K–2 interface to look like the intermediate version. This is a lovely consideration for older students who have fallen behind. They can practice at their level alongside a peer without the stigma of participating in cartoon storylines geared for a younger audience.
Activities don't come with a traditional lesson component, but students can learn from mistakes. After an error, there is a voice that walks students through how to figure out the answer. Because of the mode of instruction, teachers might hold off on assigning DreamBox activities as homework until students are ready to learn from their own mistakes. Classrooms that focus on inquiry- or problem-based learning can feel free to assign a standard or concept to students without any prior instruction. Small groups can collaborate to complete a lesson, and can then share strategies and ideas with the whole class when they're finished.
DreamBox Learning Math is an adaptive and self-paced math program that provides interactive practice activities. It's available for both web-based and iPad platforms, and student progress is tracked across both. It creates a personalized pathway for students based on their demonstrated level of readiness and adapts this pathway as students learn.
As students complete lessons, they earn coins, which can be used to play games or to customize their own avatars, wallpaper, and music.
Teachers and parents are able to create and customize accounts for individual students. Depending on the grade level selected, students are assigned to one of three versions: Primary (K–2), Intermediate (3–5), and Middle School (6–8). Each version offers a game-like atmosphere to hold students' interest, and students can select their own avatar. Teachers can assign specific concepts to students that align with their in-class lessons or with any of the 50 states' standard frameworks. These lessons can be assigned to the whole class or to individual students and are mixed in with the individualized learning pathways.
Teachers should note that the if the initial diagnostic isn't accurate, the rest of the program might be confusing, too easy, or not engaging for students. Be sure to check in regularly to assess whether the activities are aligned with the classroom curriculum and student's learning goals to avoid tedious or misaligned lessons.
The Insights Dashboard is extensive and gives teachers, administrators, and parents access to reports on standards progress for each student. Using real-time data, teachers can identify learning gaps to help them create differentiated long-term assignments for students. Teachers may want to spend time getting familiar with the dashboard before sending out assignments, since there are many options and views available. When logged into the teacher account and looking at the dashboard, it's not always clear what "view" students will have from their own accounts, as it's quite different from what's displayed on the teacher's dashboard.
Full Disclosure: DreamBox Learning and Common Sense Education share a funder; however, that relationship does not impact Common Sense Education's editorial independence and this learning rating.
DreamBox Learning Math is a comprehensive mathematics program that covers a wide range of skills for kindergarten through eighth grade. One of its strengths is that students can progress through the skills and activities of different grade levels, regardless of their actual grade level. The hint system is also adaptive and utilizes AI to use the student's own answers to provide detailed assistance. There's also a messaging system between students and teachers so that students can reach out with questions.
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 good for concept building, and the narration exposes kids to math language. The Insights Dashboard can help teachers spot struggling learners. It even includes links to extensive professional development articles, teacher tools designed to enhance whole-class or small-group lessons, and resources for parents and families.
While teachers must remain mindful that DreamBox isn't meant to take the place of math instruction, they can be confident that it offers great practice and support for students with adult guidance.