Website review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2020

XtraMath

Straightforward math fluency practice is free but dull

Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 30 reviews
Privacy rating
78%| Pass Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
K–5
Subjects & Skills
Math, Critical Thinking, Character & SEL

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Pros: Good theory allows students to focus on memorization with minimal distractions.

Cons: Rote, timed drill-and-practice exercises aren't engaging and can be stressful.

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. It's easy for teachers to set up their student accounts.  Students can login via a username and password or with a Clever Badge.

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 helpful warm-up activity as an alternative to traditional "Mad Minute" drills. It could also be one of several stations so that kids can practice fluency while also building understanding in more engaging ways. Because timed drills can be stressful for students with processing challenges, let them practice on paper, at their own pace, first. Then use Xtramath to help them ramp up fluency. Also, it's important for kids to gain number sense before doing drills, so using manipulatives to let kids "see" the numbers will give them a foundation before rote memorization.

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XtraMath is a free math-fluency web-based program. It's also available as an app at the Apple Store, Google Play Store, and Amazon, but there you'll pay a one time cost of $4.99. 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 green check mark. 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.

With Xtramath kids get immediate feedback about both speed an accuracy.  As students do problems, they adapt to target the problems kids struggle with. Parents and teachers can track students' progress using fluency reports, and the site is available in a wide variety of languages. Teachers can also customize programs to differentiate for students; one student can be working on multiplication and division while another can work on addition. There's even an assessment-only program that allows students to skip the practice and simply show teachers what they know. When it comes to the basics of memorizing facts, XtraMath does what it says it will.

Unfortunately, the site isn't exciting or fun 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. Even the paid app is less expensive, but there are many similar free apps on the market. Though it's convenient and free, teachers should first explain the purpose, so kids have a framework for why drills can be helpful. It's also important to check in with kids about how using Xtramath feels for them: Timed drills are a sure way to reinforce some kids' negative feelings about math, which won't help their progress. Bottom line: XtraMath on the web is free and gets the job done, but it isn't much fun.

Overall Rating

Engagement

While memorization of math facts is important, timed drills aren't fun or challenging in a meaningful way.

Pedagogy

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

Support

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


Common Sense reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Sheri C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Basic but it works!
It may not be fun and exciting but I need them to know their math facts! This program is strictly rote practice but it worked for me when I was a kid...I still know my math facts! I try to make a big deal out of students passing a level. I print the certificate and give it to them and we all clap for them. Some of them come to tell me how many facts they got correct that day. For my classroom it's like using flashcards but this way I can keep track of their progress.
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