Common Sense Review
Updated April 2016

Think Through Math

Great adaptive learning comes with live teacher support, unique rewards
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Students can earn rewards for completing lessons -- they can even use points to make charitable donations.
  • Students' learning pathways are based, in part, on the results of a placement test.
  • The learning of problem-solving skills is a built-in feature of many lessons.
  • Students get excellent feedback, for both correct and incorrect answers.
Students can get excellent, relevant support right when they need it with the talk-to-a-teacher option.
The teacher dashboard could overwhelm some, and the lessons could use more concrete instruction either before or after the guided instruction.
Bottom Line
A fantastic, comprehensive program where teachers can track progress and motivate using meaningful rewards.
Galen McQuillen
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Lessons and items are very influenced by standardized testing but require a bit more thinking than the usual multiple-choice or free-response offerings, which might keep kids more engaged. The design is slick, unobtrusive, and easy to navigate.

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

The multistep approach to learning is very well done and gives students an excellent opportunity to learn, practice, and get assistance when needed. It's a step further beyond direct instruction, requiring some real metacognition about math.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 5

Access to live teachers for help is an amazing resource; students also get automated hints and feedback. Audio options help learners with reading challenges. Adaptive tech info (pre- and post-test scores) helps teachers support individuals.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Versatility and flexibility are part of what makes Think Through Math so useful. Whether using it as a tool for supplemental or primary instruction, it's likely best suited for individualized practice and reinforcement; as such, it's likely to work well in response-to-intervention settings. In any case, students can have the benefit of working independently, while teachers can keep a close eye on progress with the system's detailed reports. You can set aside a few periods per week for in-class practice. If most of your students are working on similar content, you could feasibly use lessons to introduce new concepts before you teach them yourself.

You might find success boosting engagement and motivation with Think Through Math's built-in rewards program. While individualized rewards can be great in some situations, collective rewards such as class parties could help your class develop a stronger sense of community. Additionally, consider motivating your students with one of Think Through Math's national contests or a class-wide charitable donation to a worthy cause.

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What's It Like?

Think Through Math uses a multistep approach to teach students essential standards-aligned math skills, from third grade through algebra 1 and geometry. Intended to deepen students' conceptual understanding in math, the program is also flexible enough to be used for either supplemental or primary instruction. Through a very detailed dashboard, teachers have a whole host of options: managing classes, generating reports, tracking students' progress with a live activity feed, and creating classroom goals and contests.

Students begin by completing an adaptive placement test based on their current grade level. The test consists of 30 questions, and the results are used as a baseline for the individualized lessons that follow. The lessons themselves take an average of 35 to 40 minutes to complete and consist of six parts, beginning with a pre-quiz that allows students to skip ahead if they score well. Throughout the lessons, students answer warm-up questions, complete a Guided Learning session, answer problem-solving questions, complete practice problems, and finish with a post quiz. During the process, students who get stuck have access to a progression of help options, one of which includes the ability to chat with a live teacher. Student motivators include customizable avatars and points for correct answers. Points can be used for individual or classroom rewards; there's also an option for kids to put their points toward a donation to one of the community-based charities with whom Think Through Math has partnered.

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Is It Good For Learning?

The adaptive approach is solid, helping to reach a wide range of learners, whether they're below, at, or above grade level. The program's test items are high quality -- beyond helping to prepare students for more rigorous assessments, there's also a focus on building students' conceptual knowledge. It's a step beyond the usual skills-heavy curriculum of competing programs. What's more, it's great that students get supportive feedback for both incorrect and correct answers. The teacher dashboard is extremely comprehensive and a bit overwhelming at first. However, everything is cleanly organized, and the help section is very useful.

One of the program's more innovative features is Guided Learning, during which students have access to live teacher support. This kind of on-the-spot, personalized help is unique in the field and really sets the program apart, for both teachers and students. Furthermore, while the points system does support extrinsic rewards, teachers might strategically harness some real motivation and collective success by planning a pizza party or a charitable donation. In addition, the program continues to adapt to students' needs based on their performance. Overall, learning with Think Through Math is accessible and engaging for students with a range of abilities.

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