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Website review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2014
Aha!Math

Aha!Math

Powerful content delivery tool could use some refinement

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
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Grades
K–6 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Math, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking

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Pros: The lessons are extensive and varied, and the voiceovers are engaging.

Cons: The interface may hinder students' efficiency.

Bottom Line: While potentially helpful for assembling a variety of lessons, it's time consuming, and some students may get confused during navigation.

If you like to assemble lessons from a variety of online sources, Aha!Math could help bring together valuable resources from various locations on the web. For some units, creating a custom playlist for students could be a great way to help direct students' learning while also allowing them to explore. Using Learning.com's "Custom Curriculum Publishing" tool, district administrators and curriculum directors can share content and curricula districtwide. This could reduce teacher workload, though it may also be viewed as reducing teachers' autonomy.

In terms of student-facing content, the instructional videos, games, quizzes, and assessments seem the strongest. Relying on Aha!Math solely for progress tracking might not be the best choice; the Gradebook report only shows completion -- not scores -- for many activities. Nevertheless, these reports could be useful for tracking formative assessment.

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Editor's Note: Aha!Math is no longer available.

Aha!Math is a tool for managing and presenting curriculum, from Common Core-aligned math to teacher-donated lessons. There are both free and paid third-party curricula covering a wide range of subjects. About 125 native, searchable-by-standard units are broken down into collections of about 10 to 40 items. Content includes video lessons, interactive presentations, quizzes, assessments, printable lesson plans, activities, and games.

Teachers can manage classes, track students' progress, and assemble a curriculum from both native and outside sources. Eight reports include a gradebook, student scores, standards progress, and e-rate safety objectives, among others. Assessments are organized by Common Core standards, and teachers can create custom assessments as well. Students sign in with a username and password, and the student dashboard has tabs for assignments and assessments. Learning.com, the site's publisher, also offers guidance, free webinars, and a newsletter for teachers.

Aha!Math's strong core content appears, initially, to be very well organized. Video lessons and games succeed in giving students gentle guidance, with personable voiceovers and colorful graphics. Usability details like audio assistance and click-then-click selection (instead of dragging and dropping) are great for kids who might need extra support.

However, there are a few pedagogical issues that occasionally show up, like ignoring a.m./p.m. abbreviations in a schedule that spans the noon hour, or offering comment boxes within lessons for pre-emergent writers. Content management and navigation feel fragmented and redundant at the same time. The assignments list can be unwieldy, and buried assessment scores aren't clearly integrated into student performance reports. On the student-facing side, the program's interface feels appropriate for third grade, but perhaps too advanced for younger kids and a bit patronizing for older ones. Aha!Math is, on the whole, an extensive resource, but with a bit more work the site could give teachers and students a smoother experience.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

The cartoons are charismatic, but games may not excite as much. Where younger students may be entertained, older students may not be as engaged. On the design side, the abundance of icons, codes, and layers have the potential to confuse.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

While the video and text-based lessons are clear, the site doesn't seem to differentiate learning for younger learners as well as it does at the higher grade levels.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Students can get ample help within videos and lessons. However, overall navigation, management, and organization may challenge on the teacher's end of things.


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