Thursday, March 7, 2013

How We've Excelled with XtraMath

I've mentioned using with my kids numerous times. But I feel like I need to share how we've finally begun to excel with xtramath because using it wasn't always easy:/

We started using this free, online program about a year ago (give or take). The reason was my little Anna... she knew her math facts but NOT fast. In fact for her annual required testing she placed LOW on math facts which the test-giver said was due to her not being able to do the facts FAST. We were very excited about finding xtramath because it seemed like it fit our needs perfectly:)

Except, the kids HATED doing it.... HATED it!

The problem is that xtramath practices with the students until they can do math fact correctly in 3 seconds! So it's timed... they got soo frustrated and discouraged by not doing the facts quickly enough. So often xtramath was left undone most weeks:(

This year I've really tried to work more on their math facts... teaching them the different "tricks" at first, then practicing with flashcards and worksheets (that can be timed). But even those ways are great for practice to figure out the facts, but not the SPEED!

IMG_0797So here are some ways we moved from dreading xtramath to happy faces during math time, which are always nice;)

* First, teach and practice the facts before trying! They can learn new facts on xtramath but keep the stress low by giving them the ability to complete it well.

Thankfully xtramath can tell where a student is based on their placement tests. But I think I started it a little too earlier for my middle two (5 and 6 yrs at the time we stepped away from xtramath) and they really benefited from the "break" of being timed.

*Give them a "pep talk" before they even start:) Remind them over and over and over that it's PRACTICE. It can be fun and shouldn't be stressful.

I have one child that really struggled at first and I had to add that I really cared more about their attitude during our xtramath time versus how many "smiles" they got!   

BTW... I had to not let their attitude and struggle stress me out. So I reminded myself often to that it's more about "my attitude" too and I tried speak really calmly and quietly to keep the pace of the game from affecting me as well!

* Type their answers.  I know this sounds like I am helping them too much. But if they ask, just do it if you think it will help them. I have two kids who do it themselves and one that does better when I help in this way. Better yet...

*Make your own account and try to it!! I did and totally got a new perspective. The kids think it's great that I have to practice too;) I actually opened my own to see how the program progressed... but it's been a good decision... but NO ONE can talk to me when its my turn... LOL!!

*Practice the tough ones. Every time one of my kids miss a problem I have them read the problem aloud... sometimes more than once depending on the kid (and how much practice they need). I

*Eliminate the distractions!! For all the kids, they sometimes get distracted by the "timer" and "smiley count".  I know they get disappointed when they would miss one, but sometimes instead of focusing on the FACTS they watch that timer on the bottom of the screen or the smiley face counter in the top left during the Race the Teacher game.

This is what our screen often looks like:) LOL!!

*Offer praise!! Even if they get stuck on 2+1... we've been there! Again, focus on practicing with a good attitude:)

*Sometimes motivators work, too;)  As I saw them really begin to work hard I started offering them some motivations:) For every 10 smileys on the Race the Teacher, they get to watch a LEGO movie on YouTube or get a treat. BTW... this is also good because they are having to add up their smileys for the two games each session and they have to group by ten to figure out how many movies they can watch:)

I am so proud of my little xtramath-ers;)  Now  I have two that have (or are about to) complete the addition facts and are heading into the subtraction as they learn multiplication and division in their math curriculum! So we are also keeping up with new facts by  using many of the earlier pre-xtramath activities to  prepare!!

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday !


Jenny said...

Great points! Especially about focusing on their and your attitudes. Abby said to me, "Mom what word mean worse than hate?" I said, "despise?" She said, "well I DESPISE xtra math!"

LOL! I've told her it's ok if she gets them wrong, it's just practice. I do have to be careful, because it will be the same 3 questions over and over and she'll miss one. I have to bite my tongue about it.

I will use your idea to cover the screen and see if that helps.

Kelly B said...

remind them that xtramath is hard... 3 seconds isn't a long time;) But with practice they will be pros:)

Grandma said...

I remember in one of the reading programs I sponsored the parents were encouraged to read the book the student read and then both would take a computer test to see who could score higher---pressure on the parents more than the student!

Angela said...

I'm glad you posted on this. Eden hates Xtra math! We just stopped doing it. It wasn't worth the meltdowns that ensued when she got answers wrong, or couldn't race fast enough to get the smiles. The teacher also upset her when racing. I did find out how to get rid of him in the info section. She still had to race the clock, so we covered our screen too. I thought she might be to young for it and we could try it again next year.

Kelly B said...

Anna just showed me how to get rid of the man during Race the Teacher.... click on the little box underneath him;)

But I think the smiley count is still more distracting than the man.

-M said...

We just started xtramath today with my almost 6 year old. I typed the answer as she said it to help reduce stress. She got better in just the second test! Hoping this helps! Will write my review after we have tried it a while longer ;)

Kristi said...

Thank you for this post! My daughter cannot concentrate with that countdown going on while she's trying to answer the problems. I just finished making a screen cover for her. We are just using this for practice, and I don't want her to hate doing these practices!