Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2016

XtraMath

Straightforward math fluency practice is free but dull

Common Sense Says:
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Grades
K-5 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Good theory allows students to focus on memorization with minimal distractions.

Cons: The problems are rote drill-and-practice exercises without anything to make them engaging.

Bottom Line: XtraMath helps kids gain crucial math-fact fluency but won't get them any closer to enjoying math.

Kids can use XtraMath for math practice at home, during the summer, and in school. It should be done regularly but only once a day for about 15 minutes. Overuse of the program could reduce kids' motivation. The goal is to get kids to respond to the math problem within three seconds. That way, they can do math facts without having to use their fingers or do mental calculations. Teachers may find XtraMath to be a fantastic warm-up activity as an alternative to traditional "Mad Minute" drills.

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XtraMath is a free math-fluency program (website and Chrome app). It's also available as an app on iOS, Android, and Amazon, but there you'll pay $5. XtraMath helps students practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Mr. C, who talks kids through the tasks, is a National Board-certified teacher from Seattle. Emphasis is on both accuracy and speed with limited time to complete problems.

Students answer straightforward math-fact problems on the computer screen. Immediate feedback pops up in the form of a smiley face, an X, or a timer. Based on that information, the next set of problems is set up to help kids focus on their own specific needs. Kids, parents, and teachers all can see detailed progress in the XtraMath reports.

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Kids get immediate feedback, and the problems are tailored to their specific needs. Parents and teachers can track students' progress using fluency reports, and the site is available in a wide variety of languages. When it comes to the basics of memorizing facts, XtraMath does what it says it will.

Unfortunately, the site isn't that exciting for kids. Other math-fact fluency sites such as IXL and Reflex have bright images and fun games -- things XtraMath lacks -- but these sites also come with a steep price tag, while XtraMath is free. The paid app is less expensive, but there are many similar free apps on the market. Bottom line: XtraMath on the web is free and gets the job done but isn't much fun.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
2

While memorization of math facts is important, XtraMath doesn’t make it very fun.

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

Timed, individualized math-fact practice helps kids build essential skills they'll need to move on to more advanced math concepts. Focus is only on the memorization of basic facts.

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

The site is available in Spanish, French, German, American Sign Language, and more. Data on performance helps kids, parents, and teachers address learning needs.


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Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

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