Common Sense Review
Updated October 2013

Buzzmath

Have fun saving math-challenged city with middle school skills
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Common Sense Rating 3
  • Student Home page gives kids an at-a-glance view of their progress by topic plus access to all lessons, messages, personal profile, and the BuzzLab.
  • Books consist of lists of lessons by math topic with previews and progress mostly worded nearly the same as common core standards.
  • Median and mode question allows kids to order and calculate mentally or use the calculator and draw tools at their discretion.
  • Matching diagram challenges kids to get it all right before moving on.
  • Individual student report accessible through a teacher's account shows time spent, date completed, and accuracy percentages for each question.
Pros
Complete instructive question sets streamline learning and teacher feedback.
Cons
It would be nice if features would integrate pre-, post-, and final tests.
Bottom Line
This full-service, totally aligned program is great, but could spice up the actual content.
Leslie Crenna
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

This glitzy, interactive, dynamic resource will wow kids with its fantastic design. At the core, though, quiz-like content is still a bit on the dry side.

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

Lessons go deep, and lots of attention has been given to Common Core alignment. However, fun missions to save Buzz City aren't totally integrated with math content. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Lessons support student learning, but data on the home page is limited. There's audio assistance, which is great for reading-challenged students.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Buzzmath could be used as a follow up to class lectures, as daily homework, or as a stand alone curriculum for homeschoolers. Buzzmath was obviously developed with 1:1 classrooms in mind for desktop, laptop, iPad, or Google Apps. Dashboard features with the Premium product eliminate the need for paper and pencil correction. Enrichment and bonus sections give fast finishers a chance to challenge themselves and preview advanced content.

The only thing missing is end-of-unit tests although lessons could be used as tests since data is randomly generated. You would just have to check each item for 100 percent accuracy percentages to give full credit, which would possibly go faster than pen and paper correcting anyway.  There doesn't appear to be a way to save pre- and post-test data within the system, but snapshot scores could be recorded outside the tool.

You can send messages to individual students or whole classes but kids cannot send them limiting possibilities for asynchronous help with particular questions.

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What's It Like?

Buzzmath is a website that takes a core aligned, middle school math curriculum and pairs it with flexible student progress monitoring features. (Grades 6, 7, and 8 individually for Common Core and 6, 7, and 8 combined for NCTM.) Motivational narratives challenge kids to save Buzz City from math ignorance or track down the concept of zero in a historical context. Kids can choose any lesson, respond to teacher messages and assignments, retry questions to earn stars on sets of 10 interactive questions, or elect to move on to enhancement and bonus sets.

Teachers can set up free accounts with somewhat limited content or pay for Premium Classroom accounts. Both versions allow you to assign lessons and send messages via the teacher dashboard. Premium accounts add the ability easily monitor class or individual student progress on 3,000 questions including accuracy percentages for each question. The premium version offers students examples, detailed solutions, missions, and audio text reading.

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Is It Good For Learning?

You might consider adopting Buzzmath as your middle school math curriculum for grades 6, 7, and 8, not just because of its complete and aligned content, but also for the monitoring tools it gives teachers. Just-in-time instruction gives kids what they need when they need it. Kids work at their own pace and can learn from their mistakes through multiple opportunities to master each question. Premium accounts give kids examples of correct solutions and detailed explanations, plus more missions beyond the opening salvo to save Buzz City.

Actual content is somewhat dry, but it's still a far cry from static text pages: interactive controls allow kids to move arrows along number lines, draw matching lines, and manipulate geometric figures dynamically. A digital calculator is always available, but most questions involve more than simple calculation asking kids to use number properties to calculate mentally or to select the proper unit as part of the answer. Skip the initial guides and explanations; the interface is quite simple and usable without the up front time investment. 

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