As a third grade 1:1 teacher (meaning that I have a class set of computers available for use whenever needed), I believe that technology can do amazing things in the classroom. Math, however, might be the one subject most capable of being dramatically improved by technology.
Looking at the ways most teachers currently have students practice their math facts, let’s be honest: they’re usually not all that fun. Flash cards and worksheets are every child’s nightmare. Online practice sites like xtramath.org are also boring and force students to march forward in a lockstep fashion (xtramath’s introductory video for students, shockingly, even talks openly about how their site won’t really be all that fun after a while). Game sites like multiplication.com, mathplayground.com, and abcya.com are a bit more fun, but they often don’t use student time very effectively (more time can often be spent playing the game than solving actual math problems), and they never track student progress over time.
The math site for kids that does the best job providing trackable, specific data is ixl.com, but that site doesn’t focus much of its attention on the basic facts; once you’ve worked on them once (and beaten that level), there’s no incentive on that site to continue to work on the facts to get better.
As a result, many teachers still rely on the old fashioned paper/pencil timed test.
This is a niche that I believe can better be filled by technology. The basic math facts — with their clear right answers — can be easily and instantly graded online. Student progress can be tracked over time, and differentiated testing options can be more easily provided by a computer than by a teacher frantically passing out a variety of papers. Technology can allow students to receive virtual awards and be honored for both their effort and their progress. Technology can also allow students to practice their facts both at home and at school, with a teacher able to easily view all of their students’ work at a glance.
This is my goal behind creating www.themathfacts.com: to let technology take care of what it’s good at (such as automatically checking right/wrong answers and tracking that data over time), thus freeing teachers up to do what they do best (such as conferencing with students, leading class discussions, and analyzing student writing).
So please consider yourself invited: join themathfacts.com today and let technology take care of tracking your students’ math fact progress for you, so that you can be free to truly teach.