Common Sense Review
Updated April 2014

DragonBox EDU

This product is no longer available.
Innovative algebra game's classroom version has teacher tools
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Common Sense Rating 5
  • Kids have to balance equations by getting the dragon on one side of the screen.
  • Kids can use the practice mode to apply what they've learned in the game.
  • Printable worksheets help kids connect learning to a traditional paper-and-pencil format.
  • A reporting tool helps teachers track student progress.
Pros
Learning algebra is built right into the engaging gameplay, and the teacher resources are an excellent bonus to an already great experience for students.
Cons
The advanced levels are downright challenging, so some kids might get frustrated; additional hints could help.
Bottom Line
Dragonbox EDU helps kids build a strong foundation for learning algebra, and the teacher resources take it a step farther by making classroom integration seamless.
Debbie Gorrell
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 5
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

Kids will likely be hooked as they manipulate objects to play the game and grow their dragons –- all while learning algebra! The classroom extensions may not all be as engaging as the game, though.

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

Learning progresses at a challenging pace, but kids can use the practice mode to reinforce what they've learned. Worksheets help transition concepts to paper-and-pencil. Teachers can use data to help support their students' learning.

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

The site provides excellent support with several resources to help kids in the game and teachers in classroom integration. While solid overall, the quality of the printable resources might not match that of students' experience in the game.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

With the teacher resources and the rich content built into the game, it's easy to use DragonBox EDU to introduce, and then reinforce, algebraic concepts. Start by reviewing the Teacher's Manual, which can be found in the Pedagogy tab of the Teacher section. Then spend some time playing the game before introducing it to your students. You'll get a sense for the psychology behind how your kids will be learning. 

When you're ready, have kids work in pairs to complete each level. Later, review the relevant concepts as a class. For the review, use the document called "DragonBox Algebra 12+ and the Rules of Algebra" -- it can be found in the Pedagogy tab. Later, have kids return to the game to complete the relevant practice problems individually, if possible. You can assign the appropriate printout as homework, or as additional practice to help kids build connections between concepts in the game and paper-and-pencil math.

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What's It Like?

Editor's Note: Dragonbox EDU is no longer available; however, Dragonbox still publishes a series of apps.

Dragonbox EDU is a Web-based version of the popular game that teaches kids how to solve algebraic equations. As they play, kids learn one of the most important concepts in algebra -- keeping equations balanced. They learn this by dragging and dropping objects on two sides of a diagram, reinforcing the idea that what is done to one side of an equation must be done on both sides. The game mode has 10 chapters, each with 20 levels. In the practice mode, kids can use their knowledge to solve more traditional equations. The game's main goal is to solve equations by isolating the dragon in the box on one side of the screen. Once they're successful, the dragon eats anything on the opposite side of the screen and continues to grow. Once all levels are complete, the next chapter is unlocked. Hints help guide kids who struggle, and after one unsuccessful try at a level, kids can click to see the solution.

Within the teacher section of the website, there are tips and resources for bringing Dragonbox EDU into the classroom. Among these are some printable documents to help reinforce the connection between playing the game and doing algebra in school. There are also some practice sheets, a reporting tool to track players' progress, a teachers' manual, and get-started guides for teachers and administrators. 

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Is It Good For Learning?

Using DragonBox EDU, kids can learn how to solve algebraic equations in a truly unique way. They'll learn basic skills as they click on objects to make them disappear. Eventually, the dragon in the box will be alone. As learning progresses, kids can earn more "powers," such as combining like terms or dragging objects to make fractions. Eventually, kids have to isolate the box (which later becomes a variable) on one side of the screen. They key to success is doing the same thing to both sides of the screen, which models an equation. Through this innovative process, kids learn one of the most important and foundational concepts in algebra –- keeping equations balanced. Advanced chapters incorporate fractions, coefficients, and more.     

The teacher section boosts learning by providing some excellent classroom supports. The worksheets encourage kids to apply concepts they've picked up in the game to a more traditional paper-and-pencil format. One included document about the rules of algebra draws a strong connection between the game and concrete mathematics. In all, the resources here help educators connect DragonBox EDU with their classroom instruction, something that's sure to engage kids in learning and enjoying algebra.

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