How I Use It
As I said, I use this as supplement. It is not meant to be a core part of instruction or to replace the teacher. It suits its purpose very well - providing practice for the four operations - and for free at that.
I used this app as extra practice and assessment. Results are collected automatically and displayed for the teacher as well as each individual student. Parents also have access to the reports at anytime, which also helps motivate some children as they know their parents have the ability to retrieve that information.
Xtramath.org could be used as homework, however I do not require this as many of my students don't have access at home.
It has a nice feature where it can print individualized flyers for parents with access codes.
Videos are provided that do a great job of explaining the use of the site.
There are no videos that teach students concepts, only site uses, navigation, directions, etc. This is probably a good thing though, as the teacher is the one who decides how his her students should learn the strategies, not a website.
A highly recommend this free site as a supplement and assessment of automization of facts using appropriate strategies.
Overall, this is a very useful site that has only one focus: basic math practice. The quality is quite good for a site that is free.
This should not be used as a site where students are first exposed to math facts. Students should first be taught efficient strategies for solving math facts, not thrown in front of a program like this or any other. I worry that Xtramath.org (and sites like it) might get seen as a teaching solution rather than accessory.
The feature where students should try to get it in the first few seconds (by the time they get to the smiley face 3 seconds in), is great because if a student can give the correct answer within that time they likely have the fact automatized. Xtramath does well when it states in a video that the goal is to get children recalling facts without resorting to inefficient methods like counting.
As students learn efficient strategies, they will be see their scores go up. The main motivating factor for students learning mathematics is success in mathematics, not a website pumped with graphics. It can be challenging to create a climate of success like this, but I have found that some children respond well when competing with themselves.
Xtramath.org also has an interesting solution for classrooms with only one computer. There is a class mode, where students spend a few minutes on the drill, and when they are finished it tells them the next student to get (if that child is absent, they click absent and are given a new student to fetch). In this way, everyone can get the practice that they need.