Sunday, 15 May 2011


At one of the first parent's evenings I attended once we'd moved to Wales, G9's teacher remarked how good she was at reading, language work, writing etc.  I was bursting with pride.  But then the bubble burst.  She was not so hot at Maths.  Pretty bad in fact.  Hmmm, could this be my fault?  It's not my forte either.

Her Next Door suggested Maths-Whizz.  G9 already loved all things computer so it would be a natural medium for her.  The site is bright, clear, cheerful and it is UK based with gloriously familiar British accents.

To begin with G9 completed an assessment to calculate her "maths age" (a concept similar to reading age) and which also determined all her strengths and weaknesses.  G9 had to do this alone, but if she got tired she could close the program down and come back to the assessment at the place she'd left off.  Once completed the program then structured the activities at an appropriate level for her.

The activities are short, starting with a quick lesson teaching the material, followed by ten or so problems to practice the concept. If a problem is incorrectly completed, additional help is provided to help G9 understand how to complete it. There is also a Report Error button if you believe that they, at Maths-Whizz have it wrong. 

At the end of each activity the program provides a five-problem test to check for mastery. The tests are usually just a bit harder than the activities and in a similar format.  We usually complete both the activity and corresponding test together and would make sure we had at least 20 quiet minutes to do them in, although the length of time required of course depends on the difficulty of the concept.   The Maths-Whizz Tutor continually assesses and adjusts the level accordingly for G9.

If you have been on the computer for too long in Maths-Whizz you get a pop up message along the lines of, "You have done enough today.  Think about stopping."  The majority of students should spend 45 to 60 minutes per week on Maths-Whizz; little and often rather than very long sessions.

The program sends you a progress report and G9 herself like to see how she is doing in her "maths age".

There is also a "bedroom" fun section that lets G9 use credits she's earned on activities for fun things to do, such as painting the room, playing games, or buying pets and food; the animals have to be fed every time G9 goes on. In the holidays they have extra games.  15 credits are awarded for an exercise and 30 for a test. 

G9 is now doing very well.   At my last parent's evening they said of G9's Maths progress, "Whatever *you are doing, keep doing it."  She is no longer in the bottom group.  It may be expensive, but for a remote community and something we can do in small size bites that is presented in a child friendly interesting way, I can't speak highly enough of it.

*You really means Her Next Door.


Rob-bear said...

Sometimes maths just don't "add up," even for the sharpest among us. Not one of this Bear's strong suits.

Well done on finding and using "Maths-Whizz." Sounds both practical and fun. Great to hear G9 us making progress! Others may find the link useful.

The alternative, I suppose, would be getting a resident Adder. Though having a Vipera berus might not be to everyone's liking.

Chris Stovell said...

What a brilliant find. I could have done with something like that; I was fine with maths once I'd grasped the concept but being in a group taught by a true mathematician who couldn't teach to save her life left some very deep scars. I lost a huge amount of maths 'confidence' because of it. Well done to you and your daughter.

Lins' lleisio said...

Thanks Bear. I think G9 would not sit still long enough to learn anything at all if there was a Vipera berus in the vicinity.

Hi Chris, sorry to hear that you had such a difficult maths experience. It's true, catch them young and you can stop that confidence loss. Hopefully we've gone some way to doing that with this program.

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