How I Use It
I use this daily to give my students practice on important skills, especially place value. It can be used for fact fluency, but I find it most helpful for place value, multiplication, fraction, geometry, etc.
My class does their "5 minute math" (as we call it) first thing in the morning. I check it quickly when I have a moment during the day, and print the corresponding homework to send home the same day. I like the matching homework, because it is quick for most students and aligns exactly with the skill they are practicing in Formative Loop. Students progress through the skills when they display mastery, so though everyone starts in the same place they end up working through the skills at an individualized pace.
It is a timed activity but it is a part of our daily routine and it is not stressful for students like the old "Mad Minute" style math could be. It is common for students to work on the same skill for days before they display mastery, so they know that if they didn't get very far then they will get another chance the next day. All of that adds up to a low stress activity, despite the timed nature of it.
It isn't flashy, but it is quick and highly effective practice. It takes a lot of paper, but it is worth it in my opinion. It would be challenging to implement in a school that severely limits printing or where teachers don't have easy access to printers. My actual math LESSONS are very hands on, but I like having this quick practice so that students can practice skills to a mastery level. This is the best method I have found for allowing students to practice skills like expanded notation, which some students pick up immediately and other students require repeated attempts with.
There are some things that I would like to change (like rearranging certain skills to the order that I would prefer, instead of students receiving them in an order that is set by the program) but the people who run the company are very responsive to criticism and suggestions. The only reason I rated it a 3 for "Supports" is that it doesn't have any supports for different kinds of learners, which for this program might mean the option to print with fewer problems per page or a larger font for dysgraphic students. Simple tweaks like that would make a nice addition in the future, but it's still a great program without them.
All in all, it works very well in my classroom and I highly recommend it!