Common Sense Review
Updated June 2014

Mathalicious

Toughest palates can't resist appetizing look at real-world math
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Clear display of related Common Core Math standards; use the search feature to filter by specific standard, keyword, or theme.
  • Multimedia slideshows integrate animation, video, audio, and print.
  • Sample lesson guide with lesson information.
  • Lesson guides include steps, solutions, notes, and follow-up questions.
  • Sample student worksheet with a graphing activity.
Pros
High-interest topics put math in context for kids; comes with truly useful teaching resources.
Cons
While many activities pique kids' interest by explaining everyday curiosities, there are a few missed opportunities to go further, using math to raise kids' awareness of important real-world problems.
Bottom Line
Easy-to-deliver lessons use real-world topics tweens like.
Michelle Kitt
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

Kids don't interact with the site itself but rather learn math through scenarios designed around tween interests. Multimedia slideshows integrate popular media such as YouTube videos, movie clips, or book excerpts.

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

Lessons are fun, cool, and rooted in important math concepts. Within lessons, kids discover and use formulas, solve equations, and more. Scenarios model curiosity about math in ordinary things.

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 doesn't offer specific help to students. Instead, plenty of information in lesson guides enables the teacher to help in person. Lots of lessons have an American pop-culture flavor that may not resonate with all students.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Mathalicious is a supplemental resource great for introduction to math topics. Look for ways to make it accessible rather than restricted (e.g., used only as a reward or extra credit). Teacher involvement is necessary, so it’s great for in-class work among partners, groups, or individuals rather than as homework. Straightforward lessons guide teachers step by step, but they’re not “plug and play.” Give lesson guides a thorough review, with attention to scripting, time requirements, and materials. Adjust the lesson for the teaching setting and ensure there’s a working Internet connection for slideshows, as they can’t be downloaded.

Choose activities to address Common Core standards; at least two are covered by each lesson. Involve kids in picking what problem to explore next. Challenge students to extrapolate one problem to develop another that must be solved the same way. Have kids generate original questions about mathematics and look for ways to tie in scientific investigation.

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What's It Like?

In an effort to improve middle school kids’ attitudes about the subject, Mathalicous teaches math via trendy, open-ended, real-world scenarios. Companion materials like student worksheets, a teaching guide, and a multimedia slideshow guide each lesson. People with significant math and education chops design the lessons and support teachers with goodies like flexible scripting, lots of visuals, support for potential challenges, and follow-up questions. Every lesson is tied to multiple Common Core standards, with specifics provided right up front. On the site, lessons are searchable by standard, theme, or keyword.

A handful of free lessons are available, as well as three membership options. There’s no difference among plans; Mathalicious uses a novel “pay what you can” strategy for teachers.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Mathalicious frequently mentions a statistic from a 2009 Raytheon Company survey: “61% of middle school students say they’d rather take out the garbage than do their math homework.” Within the context of high-interest topics, Mathalicous can entice even hardened math haters into having fun with numbers. Problems whet appetites with thoughtful questions about ordinary things -- subtle templates for kids to seek out and question mathematics themselves. There’s an obvious effort to be “cool," but lessons are comprehensive and take math seriously.

It’s the right time to reengage kids with the subject; middle schoolers’ self-concepts (e.g., “I hate/am bad at math”) are still fluid and up for challenge. And with Raytheon Company reporting that in 2012, only 44% of middle school kids prefer trash duty to math, maybe Mathalicious is onto something. Perhaps a data analysis exercise for their next scenario?

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