Common Sense Review
Updated June 2014

ST Math: K-5

Game-based, visual activities get below the surface for deep learning
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Games and activities are organized by topic.
  • Pre-assessments measure mastery and confidence.
  • Games are fun and don't rely heavily on reading skills.
  • A teacher dashboard provides individual student information and complete control for teachers.
Pros
Interactive games with minimal reading make activities accessible to a range of learners.
Cons
Some visuals might be too childish for older students.
Bottom Line
Great tool for differentiating in-class and at-home math practice.
Paul Cancellieri
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Interactive games will captivate young kids to the point that they could become fully engrossed in the learning. The fun games and visuals are perfectly suited to the target age group.

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

Some of the games appropriately use rote memorization to teach the simplest concepts, but the biggest strength of this system is the simulation-type games that encourage kids to play with variables and observe the results.

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

Adults and kids alike will find lots support through instructions and screenshots from actual games and activities. Some wording might be difficult for struggling readers, but the games themselves are largely self-explanatory.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Because of the lack of teacher involvement when students are using ST Math: K-5, I recommend using it as a way to differentiate for different needs. Students who achieve mastery early can move on to more challenging concepts, and those who need extra help can get it from the teacher in a one-on-one or small-group setting.

The relatively simple technology requirements of this tool also make it great for homework assignments. Parents can monitor students and even participate in the interactive games.

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What's It Like?

ST Math: K-5 is a standards-linked collection of games and activities (via website or Chrome app) that teach and reinforce elementary-level math concepts using a visual method of instruction. Every major component of the K-5 Common Core math curriculum is covered, with a focus on arithmetic, geometry, and measurement. The activities are visual and interactive, with a focus on teaching math without language. In the various games and activities, students learn concepts by moving objects in a spatial-temporal way (hence the "ST" in its name). Students log in and choose a topic, and a colorful full-screen animation takes over to demonstrate what they need to do. 

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Is It Good For Learning?

When necessary, the games are designed to reinforce rote memorization, but most of the content revolves around students making choices and seeing the outcome. In one game, for example, students place birds on a telephone wire to discover how addition and subtraction work. This is a powerful way to explore mathematical concepts, and the lessons are well-designed and well-implemented. The absence of language makes this a great tool for those who struggle with reading, including kids with learning differences and English learners. Teachers can assign students individual lessons or the entire program, but this tool is probably best used to reinforce ideas after in-class instruction.

Students can see their progress in the games via easy-to-understand visuals, and the activities follow a progression that continues to challenge students as they hone their skills. For example, double-digit addition follows single-digit as they demonstrate mastery.

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See how teachers are using ST Math: K-5

Lesson Plans