Friday, August 22, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: UberSmart Math Facts

Gess has Down syndrome so as most of you know, she really struggles with learning her math facts. However, I know a mom whose child was successful in learning their addition facts. They said the key was to drill regularly. Unfortunately that is where I fail. I found it so frustrating for both Gess and myself that I tended to put it off. When I saw that UberSmart Software was going to allow us to review UberSmart Math Facts I thought it might be the perfect solution to my problem.

UberSmart Math Facts is a computer program that works like regular flash cards. It is very simple and easy to use which is one of the things I loved about it. To learn your math facts you don't need flashy, you just need repetition.

You start by learning the math facts. To do that they simply show you the flash card without the answer. Then you click the show button to see the problem with the answer on the other side.

Once your student has used the learn feature a few times they are now ready to practice the facts for themselves. This works just like when you have the physical cards. You see the problem, answer it (by typing it in), then check your answer on the back.

The tests are a little different in that it shows you both the card before and the card after the problem you are working on. They want to give it the feel of a test in which you can see more than one problem on the page. This was sort of confusing for Gess. For instance one time she was on the problem 2+1 which she has memorized really well but she suddenly seemed to have a need to make the answer include 7 or have it come out to 7 because the next problem was 7+2. She thought there was a connection somehow I guess. She is getting used to it though and it is probably good for her to learn that way. You can also skip a problem and come back to it later. Gess of course hates skipping anything. I can never get her to come back to a problem. She refuses to budge until what is in front of her is done so she never did that.

What I loved the best was their approach to teach the kids the facts in order. You learn all the 1s, 2s, 3s, etc, rather than mixing them all up. That is the only approach that seems to work with my daughter's special needs. This also means that as they work their way up and the problems get harder there are actually fewer new problems to learn. We are currently in our 2s but Gess has made great progress.

I also like the way they time the tests. Doing facts quickly is important so most kids need to work on accuracy as well as speed. However, they do let you hide the timer and they score it both as timed and un-timed. While some students need the incentive of the timer for those of us with special students, its nice to have the option! If you hide the timer there is nothing making them feel rushed and they won't even know they were timed. As the parent you see in their progress report two grades for one test: timed and un-timed. While Gess got a 92% un-timed, her timed score was more like 64%. The good news is that only I see that score. She has no clue the timer is even on.

While we are using this for addition the software does cover all four operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. They also have some dot cards and key entry practice for beginners.

The only thing I did not like is that it doesn't really go to full screen. It takes up the full screen placing a blue background behind the workspace so there are no distractions in the background, but otherwise you can't make the cards any bigger. They don't really need to be, but Gess does seem to prefer having a larger workspace. However, visually they were still easy to read and use.

UberSmart Math Facts is a simple program at a very affordable price. It is helping me remain consistent with practice while avoiding the frustration that I might cause Gess during the process. When a child moves slowly and we have a million things to do during the day we can unintentionally rush a child.  I fear that I do with Gess sometimes so I avoid doing it at all. However, this program, as simple as it is, does it all for me!  Then, when I have the time I can go look at the report and see how she has done!  She seems to enjoy it much better this way as well. If I do see her getting frustrated I simply send her back to the learning mode that day. Since getting this program I put my flash cards away and Gess hasn't missed very many days practicing her facts! We are finally being consistent! Thank UberSmart, for making my life easier!

UberSmart Math Facts sells for \$24.95. It is a downloadable program so you can use this year after year and you have permission to use it on all the computers in your home that run Windows. Each of your students will have their own user so you will be able to keep track of who is doing what. While it is intended for grades K-6 it is great for any child who needs to learn or refresh their math facts.

To learn more about UberSmart Math Facts visit their website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.