Monday, July 3, 2017

New Math Apps and Services for Grades PK–5

At the start of the 2016–17 school year in Barrington 220, we subscribed to the following math software subscriptions throughout the district: FASTT Math, Xtra Math, Math in Focus, IXL, Compass, Quick Math, Dreambox, Splash Math, Reflex Math, and TenMarks. That's too many. We have amazing teachers and given the explosion of technology access and subsequent growth of digital math resources, we found many effective ways to engage students with more math practice.

As our district continues to focus on the best tools for learning, we have acknowledged the need to more closely vet the use of digital math resources to align to Barrington 220 math standards.

Our elementary Math Steering Committee formed a subcommittee including Bridgette Hurst (Grade 5 teacher at Grove), Lisa Christianson (teacher at Arnett Lines), Jeff Simon (Grade 1 teacher at Arnett Lines), George Vlasis (Kindergarten teacher at Hough), Shawndra Shelton (District Technology Assistant), Loretta Johnson (Instructional Digital Age Learning coach at Sunny Hill), Laura Meehan (Instructional Digital Age Learning coach at Arnett Lines and Hough), Joslyn Katz (Instructional Digital Age Learning coach at Grove and Roslyn Road), Becky Wiegel (Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning), and me (Director of Instructional Technology).

It was our goal to find the best resources for our teachers and students, particularly with an eye on two main teaching and learning needs: fact fluency and content supplementation. We focused on tools meeting our needs in the areas of access, engagement, connection to growth in skills (particularly with options of concrete, pictorial, and abstract representations), entertainment, and a positive iPad user experience. We also looked for tools to allow teachers to track student growth progress, group students for differentiation, and measure student time engaged in learning.

We researched the apps and services mentioned above and included several more options as part of our initial study. Ultimately, the group narrowed the list to just two options for students in Grades 1–5: Reflex Math for fact fluency and TenMarks for content supplementation. Given the reading level of TenMarks, the group agreed the tool best suited students in Grades 1–5, where we identified the greatest need for content supplementation. 

Here is a video highlighting some of the feedback from our teachers and students using Reflex Math and TenMarks:

A second subcommittee was formed to include all of the Kindergarten teachers on the Math Steering Committee. This group identified some apps to fill in the gaps. The apps selected include Math Number Rack, Number Frames, 10 Frame Fill, Number Pieces Basic, Math Doodles, Math Doodle Attributes, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, Dexteria Dots, Osmo Numbers, Dragon Shapes, Geoboard, Pattern Shapes, Quick Math Jr., and Animal Math.

After this investigation, our subcommittee determined that, given the exponential growth in math resources, we must continually evaluate the programs available to our students; thus, we will continue our efforts next year. We also hope to grow this project to include middle school and high school.

Here are directions to access Reflex Math and TenMarks:

Reflex Math

Teachers will be invited to join our subscription via an email sent directly from Explore Learning.  Please be sure to check your spam folder if you do not receive an invitation by July 15, 2017.
  1. Navigate to 
  2. Teacher Login: Created by teacher via emailed directions from Explore Learning Email.
Students will access this math fact fluency program through an app downloaded from Self Service on the iPad.  On-boarding for students will be completed by August 15: all student information will be uploaded and the account will be tied to their homeroom teacher. Rosters and login cards can be printed from the teacher dashboard or from the building admin account held by the LTA.
  1. Students download the Reflex Student App from Self Service.
  2. Students login using a class name supplied by the teacher and a password provided by Explore Learning.

Students will access Tenmarks from the app downloaded from Self Service. Account set-up for teachers will be completed over the next couple of weeks, student accounts will be active by August 15. TenMarks is scoped for students in Grades 1–5.

Click here to see the log on process (directions contain a password)

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