Website review by Pamela Brittain, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2020

Math Nation

Approachable video courses break down math, build up student skills

Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 14 reviews
Privacy rating
66%| Warning Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
6–12
Subjects & Skills
Math

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Pros: Excellent, approachable video instruction featuring a useful choice of hosts. The discussion board gives students quick feedback and a chance to mentor others.

Cons: Students are locked into a linear progression when working through the On-Ramp tool. The grade-based courses aren't as dynamic as the others.

Bottom Line: This is a fantastic resource for students and teachers alike, with a straightforward, accessible approach to learning math and an admirable approach to differentiation.

Math Nation lends itself well to flipped classrooms, distance learning, or student-driven reinforcement of topics taught in class. The quizzes at the end of each topic can help students figure out where they're at, and can serve as a starting point for teacher and student discussion, or for designing classroom learning. Each section ends with a more comprehensive assessment to further gauge student understanding. As of this review, the developers are also deploying an assessment tool that'll give teachers the ability to fine-tune their assessment questions to match what's being taught in the classroom. 

Teachers could also encourage students to make use of the tool's Wall feature to access just-in-time tutoring, or to help other students who might be struggling. It'd be helpful to first set some ground rules for participation, though. There's also an On-Ramp tool that could be useful for students who are struggling with some fundamental concepts, allowing them to get up to speed and build understanding at their own pace.

In terms of delivery, videos can be embedded in Google Classroom or other platforms. There are also worksheets that match each video lesson (provided as part of the platform) and a workbook that can be purchased separately. These supportive materials give teachers a variety of options for blending digital and offline learning. 

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Math Nation (also known as Algebra Nation) is a math instruction and practice site for the web as well as for iOS and Android. It features instructional videos, workbooks, quizzes, tests, and other support content for Algebra 1 and 2 and Geometry. There's also content for grades 6, 7, and 8 math and for SAT preparation. It's only available in certain states and for certain districts.

When students log in, they're greeted with a friendly introduction and tutorial video. After they're oriented, students can then work through the content. Lessons are broken into sections featuring instructional topic videos and worksheets. (Note that the videos -- including on the Math Nation mobile apps -- can be downloaded for students with limited internet access.) Lessons conclude with short Check Your Knowledge assessments, and there's a final test at the end of a section. One of the most unique and interesting features of Math Nation is that students can choose their instructor for the videos. There are six diverse choices, each with different teaching styles and approaches. One instructor also offers Spanish language support. Students can select one and change as they go. To help students choose an instructor, there are handy descriptions of them and their personalities, intro videos, and estimates of how deep they dig in to the content. Alongside the lessons is a Wall -- basically, a comments section -- where students can ask questions, post their work, and receive feedback from Study Experts. Students can also help each other out and earn karma points. These points rank them on a leaderboard, which might win them real prizes. It's important to note that for the grade-based math courses (e.g., for grade 6 or grade 7), the experience varies from what's described above. Information is presented in more of a textbook-style format, with videos blended in. This isn't as compelling or dynamic an experience as the algebra, geometry, or SAT prep courses.

Teachers get a detailed 40-minute walkthrough video of the platform that lays everything out in a simple, straightforward manner. They also have access to an extensive resource guide for each lesson, a Wall of their own (no karma points, though), an assessment tool, and extremely detailed reports on what their students are doing on the site and how they're doing. (There are also district-level reports available to administrators.)

Math Nation is a well-structured learning experience that's impressive in its scope, depth, and attention to detail. The Study Experts in particular demonstrate the platform's commitment to getting math instruction right. Each expert has their own unique way of presenting topics, and their presentation isn't too polished, so it feels like actual classroom instruction. Students can watch how different instructors approach and work through problems and concepts, encouraging them to find an approach that works for them. Since the experts are also different types of people, there's clearly an interest in making an inclusive experience. 

There's a nice balance of structure and flexibility in how the content is presented and what teachers and students can do with it. Courses match videos with workbooks and quizzes. Students can download many of these assets, including the workbooks, so they can work along with the videos and actively learn the concepts. They can also download the videos and work offline. Check Your Understanding quizzes at the end of each lesson give students (and teachers) continuous feedback and a sense of how they're doing with opportunities to try concepts again (or switch to another Study Expert) if they struggle. If they're really in a pinch, students can turn to the Wall to discuss problems with other learners or the Study Experts.

There's a general sense of fun and lightheartedness built in to the video instruction, like bloopers and flubs by the Study Experts. Most other platforms would edit these things out, but it's these human quirks that make math feel more approachable and less intense. The format of these core courses (Algebra 1 and 2, Geometry, SAT prep) is so good, in fact, that it makes the courses that stray from the structure (grade-based math) a bit disappointing. Even so, these still offer a fairly satisfying learning experience.

The On-Ramp tool is another useful feature that demonstrates Math Nation's commitment to differentiation and meeting the needs of all students. It's a structured prep course teachers can assign to students who may be struggling, allowing them to cultivate the skills they'll need to get on pace. While this tool can be a little hard to understand at first, the tutorial video helps. Unfortunately, the On-Ramp experience is linear, so students won't be able to jump around depending on their needs. Teachers, however, can adjust the starting point.

Overall Rating

Engagement

The videos are authentic and engaging. Students can choose an instructor that works for them. Content is typical, but well-presented. 

Pedagogy

The units and lessons are broken down beautifully and can be used for everything from enrichment, to filling in basic skills, to creating a flipped classroom. The instructors all have different teaching styles. 

Support

There are extensive how-to videos and FAQs and multiple discussion boards. Quizzes and tests give solid feedback. Videos feature captions and Spanish support. Materials are downloadable.


Common Sense reviewer
Pamela Brittain Researcher

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Hannah C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Larchmont Charter School West Hollywood
West Hollywood, United States
Great resources for students, teachers, and families!
I think it's a great curriculum. I also have their workbooks so I'm able to have students work in their workbooks for the most part, and use the digital textbook as backup. The video resources are amazing, and it's what really sets this curriculum apart from the others I've used in the past.
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