How I Use It
I attempted to use freckle as a small group intervention program for a substantially separate setting, and in a remedial class. Class set up is very easy and intuitive, and does not require individual passwords or linkage to a Google classroom account. A teacher could assign a course of study, or a student can self-select a path. Ease of use is Freckle''s greatest virtue.
I explored the adaptive math feature by creating a student account for myself and simulating the student experience. I initially explored an 8th grade unit on functions. I was first given a pre-test, during which I intentionally answered questions incorrectly to examine how well the program adapted to my simulated level. After my 3rd incorrect answer, a pop-up appeared stating "phew, that was tough" and prompting me to move backwards to a lower level skill. I opted to remain on functions, in hopes that Freckle would adapt downward (for example, by starting me off at unit rate or proportionality). No such luck, the only way I could access lower level material was by re-assigning my student account to grade 6.
I attempted the grade 6 test on unit rate. I immediately noticed one concern in the appearance of ratios - ratios and equivalent ratios were expressed using colons instead of fractions, (students must be able to calculate and manipulate ratios in fraction form as they progress through the curriculum). As I tested, I was intentional on answering questions reflecting the first two lessons (writing ratios and unit rate) correctly while answering all other problems incorrectly. Despite this, Freckle defaulted me back to lesson 1 - writing ratios. I launched the lesson to find that the first question I received reflected a lesson on equivalent ratios (lesson 4, I believe). I even received several multi-step problems about comparing two different unit rates. I clicked on the video resources, but the only available example was about writing a simple part-to-art ratio. Furthermore, I was locked into a pre-set sequence and unable to skip lessons. This means, if I wanted students to use Freckle to calculate unit rates of graphs, that student would first have to master percent before even having access to graphs.
Finally I attempted the 6th grade course on expressions and equations. The first lesson was titled "introduction to exponents." The first problem in the lesson was a four step order of operations problem. I clicked on the hint video, and was provided a similar example, however the font of the example problem in the video was so small it was rendered unreadable. I could find no resource for a student who does not understand how to simply interpret and calculate an exponent.
After a few hours of exploration I gave up, concluding that Freckle does not meet the needs of a public school teacher.
Overall, I find this product to be suitable only for providing extra practice to proficient or advanced students, or for remediating those working far below grade level. Even in the case of remediation, there is not enough flexibility in Freckle's interface to individualize a sequence of lessons to meet a learner's profile. The adaptive math feature does not appear to adapt to the user's ability level despite being advertised as such. It is not possible for a struggling learner to access vertical, prerequisite skills without manually changing that student's grade level. Practice problems are not properly sorted by lesson and reflect high levels of DOK, while provided examples only appear to address the lowest DOK of the standard. While this is a user friendly program, I would not recommend it.