One of last year’s more profound PDs at my school was a book club on “Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job: Correcting the Top 5 EdTech Mistakes”. In it, author Yong Zhao advocates exactly what the title suggests: That teachers should use technology whenever technology does the job better than humans.
For this tech review, I will be focusing on XtraMath, which is a simple online tool that I use to achieve what many teachers can’t: Learning math facts. Instead of putting that responsibility on myself, the parents, and ultimately the students, I put the responsibility on a machine to get the job done.
How it works:
XtraMath is a simple flash card program that allows you to assign programs of flashcards to individual students. The program records which math facts they have mastered and drills them with math facts that they routinely get incorrect.
In the old days I used Rocket Math and spent a good deal of my time making copies of multiplication tables. I spent most nights with a red pen in my hand correcting in front of the television. Now we have XtraMath to do the work for you. Once you get students logged on and going on the flashcard program that you want (instant differentiation), you need to do little more than dedicate 10 minutes a day to the exercises.
Students see their own progress on their little fact chart, and they are motivated by earning smiley faces. I use a chart in my classroom dedicated to XtraMath to provide a constant visual of progress throughout the school year.
If you are a grade 1-6 teacher, or any teacher that needs to teach math facts to any student, I would suggest this program. It is free, it works on iPads and PCs, and it is easy to have students practice at home. Once students complete each of the levels, you can always move them up to a faster level, and there are easy to print certificates available for celebrating achievements.
So, gone are the days that teachers are responsible for drilling students in rote learning. Let a machine take care of it!