Common Sense Review
Updated May 2013

Conceptua Math

Emphasis on visual learning helps students understand math concepts
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Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • Content is organized into units, each based around a big idea, like Learning Equivalent Fractions.
  • Each lesson begins with an opener that allows teachers to hook kids attention.
  • For the bulk of each lesson students are working on computers, listening and responding to online lessons.
  • Teachers can use closers for class discussions about lessons after students complete individual computer work.
Pros
The emphasis on learning with digital tools as well as non-digital strategies can help a diverse range of learners grasp sometimes difficult-to-understand math concepts.
Cons
For students, the digital lessons may not be as exciting as they could be, and the site moves slowly between slides.
Bottom Line
A well-organized set of elementary math lessons for teachers and classes using a 1-to-1 device program.
Emily Pohlonski
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Visual tools and online manipulatives are more interactive than traditional math worksheets. While the learning may be more fun, some kids may lose interest during the wait time in between slides.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 5

Every lesson has a hook, guided practice, formative assessment, and a closer. The conceptual lessons are visually based, and students get immediate feedback as they work through the program.

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

Content is presented to students in multiple ways; an audio track reads information, and visuals accompany the text. Additional "Investigations and Tools" are available so students can delve deeper into a topic.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Lessons begin with an opener that can be projected on a screen for the whole class to view. Teachers can move through the prompts using an interactive Whiteboard or wireless mouse. Prompts encourage kids to think, share with a partner, and discuss ideas with the whole class.  Following the openers, kids individually move through the lessons at their own pace on computers. Following an 8- to 15-minute guided lesson, students get a skills check that provides immediate feedback, and teachers can circulate to help students interpret their results. 

An important note for implementation: It's best for students to wear headphones during digital lessons to reduce distractions, as multiple devices will be running videos at the same time.

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What's It Like?

Conceptua Math is a math curriculum program focused on visual learning and data-driven instruction. Content in the program is clustered into units called "big ideas" and based on the Common Core Math Standards. The program is meant to work with the careful guidance of a classroom teacher, not as a stand-alone instructional tool. Available units include third through fifth grade, Fractions (which covers some sixth-grade standards), and more.

Conceptua Math encourages teacher and student participation, and the program is not entirely Web-based. For example, in a think-pair-share opener, students think about models on the board and then share their ideas with a partner. Students might then move into a digital lesson where they would, say, move digital tiles to simulate the distributive property. As a closing activity, the class would reconvene to decide if they agree with a fictitious student’s solution to a problem.

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Is It Good For Learning?

One of Conceptua Math's biggest strengths is that it provides differentiation for individual students while also allowing whole classes to learn about math concepts together. While digital lessons are individualized, classes will have the same opener and closer together, offering teachers the opportunity to add to, or augment, the program's instruction.

Unfortunately, the Web-based tool alone isn't as adaptive as it could be. Students get the same number of problems to complete, regardless of how many earlier problems they get right. This might get boring for kids who “already get it”; more opportunities for differentiation would make the program even more impactful. Nevertheless, the online simulations allow students to manipulate concepts and see the results. This is very similar to using actual math manipulatives in the classroom, but the online technology has the benefit of individualized, immediate feedback. 

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