Common Sense Review
Updated September 2013

Math Live!

Fun animations and interactive practice teach conceptual math content
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Common Sense Rating 3
  • Providing quality explanations on more than 20 late-elementary math concepts, Math Live! is a true stand-in for teacher instruction.
  • Content is clearly sub-divided for ease of use and screens show progress toward lesson completion.
  • Diverse animated characters introduce both expected and quirky problems, and then explain concepts and vocabulary as the learner heads toward a solution.
  • Sample student responses are included along with topic assessments and rubrics, allowing teachers to consider various levels of math reasoning.
  • Embedded practice questions allow students to practice during the lesson and feedback is provided.
Pros
Provides exceptional math concept instruction and includes solid assessments, rubrics, and keys.
Cons
Students may need some teacher direction, assessments are printable only, and content corresponds to Canadian objectives (including use of metric measurements).
Bottom Line
High-quality instruction and insightful assessments make this a go-to site for teaching middle-grade math concepts.

Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Students join animated characters as they solve age-appropriate, periodically silly math problems. Though slow-paced at times, the interactive format helps keep all students involved.

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

Math concepts are clearly explained; lessons include key vocabulary, models, and embedded practice problems. Although not adaptive, the site is geared toward building students' conceptual understanding.

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

Progress within a lesson is easy to view, but included assessments are only printable. Students get support when they're wrong but can move on without fixing errors.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Math Live! stands out among educational websites as a tool for guiding students toward better conceptual understanding. The site adeptly covers math concepts and provides quality (if only printable) assessments. The site is best used to help your students understand –- not memorize –- topics.

In a self-paced classroom, students working individually or in small groups can learn online while teachers work with others. For those using a flipped-class approach, the site can be used to introduce topics at home while classroom time is used for practice. The site’s curriculum includes relevant, high-quality activities and assessments. These can work as both pre- and post-tests, assessing student readiness as well as measuring understanding. The site even includes sample responses to help instructors predict different levels of math reasoning. The parent and teacher notes provide some great suggested extensions and real-world applications.

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What's It Like?

Math Live! has an animated cast of characters who help students learn more than 20 significant math concepts, from place value to probability. After selecting a topic, students proceed through five to ten short segments in which the characters introduce a problem, explain the concepts, and provide interactive practice. Where most online math explorations tend to focus on drills and memorization, Math Live! stands out for its attempts to cover the conceptual side of different math topics.

Math problems range from the expected (“How can we divide these balloons for the school dance?) to the quirky (“What fraction of the kittens will wear sweaters?”). The animated crew speaks clearly and thoughtfully, and vocabulary is clearly spelled out for easy note-taking. The site also includes printable activities and assessments, complete with keys, rubrics, and even sample responses.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Math Live! engages students with age-appropriate content and clear, yet concise, instruction. What’s unique is the quality and depth of instruction; in a field of math online explorations geared toward drills and memorization, Math Live! stands out for its conceptual coverage of topics. Students will receive immediate feedback as they practice math problems that aim to build true understanding. Unfortunately, the online practice doesn't adapt based on student input; the site could be a more powerful learning tool if next steps were tailored to responses. Also, teachers should know that the site doesn't electronically record student progress, nor does it provide feedback about students' answers on the site.

Ultimately, students can demonstrate mastery through the printable activities and assessments (provided within the site). Don’t be fooled by this old-school approach! The assessments are of exceptional quality; they focus on conceptual understanding and ask students to explain their thinking. The included rubrics and sample student responses will help both new and experienced teachers promote and monitor their students' math reasoning.

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See how teachers are using Math Live!