Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2013

Reasoning Mind

Quality digital math curriculum requires a lot of screen time

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Teachers say (14 Reviews)
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Grades
2-6 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Solid math instruction boosts learning, and class competitions can help motivate some kids.

Cons: More flexibility for supplemental use could entice teachers who desire autonomy; not completely aligned to Common Core standards.

Bottom Line: For comprehensive digital courseware it covers the curricular bases quite well, but some teachers may feel like their autonomy is being stifled.

As a comprehensive digital curriculum program, rather than a supplement to existing instruction, experienced math teachers may find Reasoning Mind's format to be quite different than what they're used to. As students work independently, teachers should presumably have more time to implement intervention with struggling students. However, traditional, whole-class math instruction isn't a significant part of the equation for teachers, many of whom may be used to creating and constructing their own lessons.

Within the program, teachers can assign homework to students; they'll view it in the Homework House area of RM City. Also, every student receives an RM mailbox -- teachers can send encouraging notes and give personalized feedback. While a few kids may find the guided lessons boring, many are likely to love playing against their classmates in the game room, and this could be a great class incentive.

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Reasoning Mind is a Web-based digital curriculum program for math in grades 2-6. For the most part, the content in Reasoning Mind is intended to be used by teachers and schools as students' core curriculum in math -- not as a supplement. While the Basic I course can be supplemental, the program's Basic II and Basic III courses -- covering grades 5-8 -- are meant to be all-inclusive and could require up to 70 minutes of computer time per day, for every student. Reasoning Mind is designed specifically for schools with a 1-to-1 device program (or with lab access available for all students). There's a training course and professional development for teachers in schools that have adopted the curriculum. While aligned specifically with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards, Reasoning Mind is mostly aligned with the Common Core math standards; a good deal of the curriculum spans both sets of standards.

In the program, kids work with a lovable character named Genie. Genie's rule number one is to have students read and understand the theory behind any topic they're learning. This is achieved by having students read a cartoon about whatever concept they are working on (after completing a quick warm-up problem). Throughout the guided study section, there are quick questions that check for understanding and provide immediate feedback. There's also a game room where students can compete against their classmates, but most of their time is spent individually, working through the guided practice.

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One of Reasoning Mind's greatest assets is the way it emphasizes to kids that it's okay to make mistakes. As they work, students are offered immediate feedback and plenty of praise. The lessons are written in a way that makes sense to kids, and students are given chances to experiment and and reflect in a kid-friendly and non-threatening environment. In one example, a cute bear squeezes an equal sign into a less-than or greater-than symbol to show kids what the symbols mean.

However, while the program claims to be adaptive -- offering different learning pathways based on students' answers -- it doesn't seem to respond or differentiate as well as it could. It's possible that some students might get bored, while other kids may feel lost. Also, throughout the program students have to click, phrase by phrase, to get information to pop up on the screen. While this may help some students stay focused, others who find this tedious might just click without really reading. Overall, while not as fun or exciting as more game-based programs like Reflex, Reasoning Mind may be an option for schools looking to adopt a comprehensive digital curriculum.

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Overall Rating
3

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

The program is easy to use and kids are likely to find it visually appealing. However, the lessons themselves could use a boost in terms of the fun factor.

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 well organized with plenty of opportunities for kids to pause and check for understanding. Activities and assessments are clearly linked to learning goals. More ways for kids to collaborate would be a nice touch.

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

If kids struggle the "Genie's Solution" is available after every problem. Help appears on screen; students can also listen to an audio version. To some degree, support and intervention are dependent on teacher involvement.


Common Sense Reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Carla F. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Salt Rock Elementary School
Salt Rock, WV
4
Guided Study + Review + Wall of Mastery = Success

My students and I loved it! I liked the different parts of RM. I liked having the notebook for students to write their answers and have to take notes. I liked the different ways students had to answer a problem (type, drag and drop, etc.) I encouraged my students to reach level B and level C problems - we discussed how to get there.. I'm looking forward to using it next year!

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