How I Use It
We are required to test student math fact proficiency throughout the school year while providing students opportunities to practice during the school day. To do so, I have used XtraMath as a math center in my classroom. I easily set up the student accounts and showed the introduction video that is provided on the website to my class at the beginning of the year. Each student is provided a pin number that they use to log into their account. The site also provided parent flyers to send home. The flyers shared information about the program and how they can access it at home. Parents can use XtraMath at home on a computer or by downloading the app for $5.00. To get started, I set up the operations that I wanted my students to practice. XtraMath provides the option to alter an individual student’s level or operation to practice based on passing tests in class or concentrating on a specific operation we were working on in class. All students were required to take an initial quiz to determine their knowledge of each operation. This pinpointed the facts they answered incorrectly or took too long to answer. Each day during math block, students would log in using their pins and practice facts for one of the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). Once they completed their set of drills, a new student’s name would pop up to begin their practice time. If that student was unable to practice at that time because they were working with me in small group instruction, they could skip and move on to another student that was available during that rotation. Each student was given time during the math block to practice that set of facts required every day for the week. At the end of the week, I was able to print out reports for each student to review their progress. The progress report shared which facts the student answered correctly, slowly, or incorrectly. When students had mastered an operation I was able to move them to another operation or challenge them by altering the settings to decrease the amount of time allotted to answer each question. For my students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), I could also extend the time allowed to answer each question. The repetition of the program was helpful for many, but many times the repetitiveness became daunting and the students became bored. For many of the technical questions, the FAQs page provided lots of answers so I could support my students and their families. I also could send any additional questions I had via email to XtraMath and received written responses to refer to.
Overall, my opinion of XtraMath is that it had a great impact of my students’ success in learning their basic math facts. I found this incredibly easy to sign up for and set up. Students were given the time at school to practice that they did have at home due to lack of parent support or time. My class was consistently passing levels and the progress reports allowed me to see where they were making errors which I shared with our instructional team and parents. When discussing certain students, the XtraMath progress reports were another data point that I could bring to meetings and share as a tool that I was using to support student learning. I enjoyed the ability to adapt this program for students who need enrichment and also for students with specific learning needs. I also liked how the program was developmental. It started with addition and worked its way through more difficult operations based on completion. It also allowed me to have control and change parts of the program for each student to meet their individual needs. Despite the benefits of the tool, I did not like the limited variety of activities it offered. It was very redundant and after a month many of my students have begun to lose interest. Having other types of games within the program to test their fluency would make this website truly incredible. I also would like to see an easier way to get the students to sign in to their own computer to work on this website instead of on just one classroom computer. This would allow my students to access XtraMath when they have completed work or use it as a warm-up without waiting for others.