Thursday, September 20, 2018

What if they knew their facts?

Teaching math is a lot easier (and more fun) when students are fluent in their facts.  But moving math facts from knowledge to fluency takes assessing their current level of fluency, a lot of good practice, a way to hold students accountable for that practice, and a way to monitor progress so you can encourage successes and intervene when students plateau.  And it is better by far to do this both individually, and automatically.  (And without any paperwork on your part - you do have a life:)
 
It’s our pleasure to announce the launch of Math Facts Pro 2.0!  Flash and Puffin are no longer needed, and our program can be accessed directly in your favorite browser, no app required, even on iPads, other tablets, or phones.
 
The entire code has been rewritten, including a lot of new features requested by teachers, like keyboard entry, teacher access to individual student reports, complete practice history, and of course our game, Mars Defense.  Accounts that expired a while ago have been reactivated for 10 days.  Try it for free!


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Mars Defense - Our New Focused Math Fact Video Game is now Launched!

Logged-in students can play our new game after completing a regular fact session for the day.  We created Mars Defense to make practicing math facts more fun and more focused, because the best thing we can do to help students is motivate them to practice more.  Early testing is showing that all these things are happening!  Students who play Mars Defense are less distracted, answering more facts per minute, and are practicing 60% more facts!  The original app with the jokes now becomes more of an assessment piece, and Mars Defense uses that information for smart, efficient, and fun practice.  We strongly suggest that you not assign more than 50 facts/session in your teacher dashboard, and instead encourage the students to play Mars Defense every day.  The practice will be just as effective, but it will be a lot more fun.  (And they will most likely practice more, too.)  The more students practice, the more they learn the facts they need to work on, so they do well in the game.  Then the assessment measures the improvement and moves them on to the next harder facts in the game.  High scores tables for the class, the school, and the world provide extra motivation. 

Once students have completed a regular session for the day, they can log in from anywhere, do 1 fact, click results, and then go to Mars Defense.  Practice history in the Teacher’s Dashboard now reflects the total number of facts from both the assessment and Mars Defense.  However, the results grid does not reflect Mars Defense practice because the facts are small and move around, so it wouldn’t be a fair test.  Also, there are often multiple facts on the screen, so it is impossible to determine which fact was answered wrong (or right). 

One of the problems with math fact teachers (and math fact game designers) is that we forget what it was like to not know our facts, when we had to work on learning them as a student.  To help with this, we created a teacher version, which will practice multiplication up to 16 x 16.  It’s a fun way to become a student again and see things through their eyes.  Note: this version is not tied into the assessment (jokes) app, so it is not as smart – it doesn’t really know what you know, and it won’t grow with you, but we think you’ll still like it.  Teachers received an email with a link on February 1.  Soon we will have a link on your teacher dashboard.  Of course, you can always create your own fake student and play the regular version.

Mars defense does work in Puffin Academy, but the lag is quite noticeable.  The new game is the first step in improving Math Facts Pro and getting it out of Flash.  (Then we will work great on mobile devices.)  Once we are out of Flash, we will be adding more games!

Also, we have finished making the transition to a faster server on Amazon, so the Meltdown bug fix should no longer be an issue.

Thank you for using Math Facts Pro.  Stay tuned for updates!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Construction

You may have noticed some problems with our server recently.  All should be working now, except for email.  Amazon pushed a fix for a security issue in Intel chips, which led to slower performance, and our server started overloading.  We are in the process of moving to a faster server, which is a plus, but there may be some hiccups, as this wasn't planned.  The really good news is that our new math fact focused video game is out!  More on that later.  Students who are logged-in and who complete a session can play using the new button on their results page.  Thank you for your patience.
Image result for under construction free image

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Improvement & Bug fix

Math Facts Pro was originally designed with the x10 and x12 tables being separate, and the same for division.  This was why when a student practiced the x10's table, and then switched to the x12's they were essentially starting over, from the database's point of view.  This week we combined the 10's and 12's, so when the student moves from the 10's to the 12's, their data is already there, and only the 11's and 12's are new.  This will make for a more efficient experience.  Unfortunately, we found out this morning that we had a bug.  When students played the 12's, it only showed up on your teacher page if you changed views to the 10's.  This is now fixed.  However, 12's facts that were done from yesterday through around 10:45 central U.S. time today will still require you to view the 10's in the history.  We are sorry for the difficulty.  If you still have trouble, your student's browsers will need to have their cache cleared to load the new version of the program.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Better Reporting!

We are very excited to be rolling out some new reporting changes today!  When students get to their results page, they will now see how many facts they have answered correctly for that operator since the account was started.  We wanted a way to encourage students who are working hard.
Also, when teachers log in to their accounts, they will see a new summary of their students' practice and progress:  (Remember that this summary page is printable with the green button at the top.)

We have changed the practice history so that you can see how many facts the student practiced correctly today, yesterday, this week, and last week.  The green backgrounds are based on practicing 1 session/day, and 5 sessions/week.  So if today is Thursday, these students would have a green background for today and yesterday if they had done 30 facts each day, and for this week if they had done 120 facts so far, and for last week if they had done 150 facts then.  Our calendar is based on the school week, and we lump the weekend into Friday, so Friday - Sunday are considered one day.  Facts practiced on Sunday are credited to the previous week, and on Monday, the "yesterday" block represents Friday - Sunday.

To fit this into the available space, we had to stop displaying a differential in school and homework practice.  If you really miss that feature, please let us know, either via your suggestions form or the contact form.  When we are no longer in Flash we could bring it back if it really was helpful.  Then we will also be able to provide more specific data for the whole year, in a printable form.

The mini-results grid now has colors!  Green facts are fluent (defined as: 1-3 tries, perfect; 4-10 tries, only 1 mistake/too slow allowed, 10+ tries, only 1 mistake/too slow allowed out of the last 10 tries)  Remember that the cut-off speed is customized for each student based on their fastest facts because some students are faster than others.  Yellow facts aren't fast enough (on the last 9/10), and Red facts aren't correct enough on the last 9/10.  We have also improved the tool tip.  By mousing over the grid you can now see the detailed information on each fact.  While this student's accuracy and speed on 2 x 1 are too low, you can see that the last 6 of  7 attempts were fluent.  If they continue to be accurate and fast enough for the next 3 attempts, the fact will be counted as fluent.  Remember that new facts will start out with a low accuracy, slow speed, and improve over time.  However, it is fluent responses on 9 out of the last 10 attempts that determines fluency.

Getting Ready for the New Year

Welcome back!  We hope you had a great summer.  As you think about your new students and wonder where they are with their math fact fluency, we can help you.  Even if you haven't set up an account on Math Facts Pro, you can still use the free side (Lite Version).  Have students do 100 facts on the operator of your choice, and then have them print off the detailed report at the end.  Doing 100 math facts will give you a good snapshot of their math fact fluency.  The program will have a good idea of what their speed is and will be able to figure out on which facts students are using their fingers, or counting.  For more accurate results, create a free trial account, and have them practice as often as you can.  The program stores everything in the database, and the more info it has, the more accurate it is.  It will also be more efficient, because it doesn't have to relearn the student each time.

You can use Math Facts Pro for weekly assessments to see how students are progressing, or you can use it as daily/weekly practice.  It's very smart, efficient, and effective.

If you have a paid account (1$/student/year), I would suggest you delete your classes from last year, which will delete all the data, and then add in your new classes and students.  Try to get the first 100 facts done soon, and then you will be able to log-in and see what they know, what they don't know, and what they aren't quite fast enough on yet.  And they can start work on getting the rust out of their brains.

If you have a school account, we can now upload your students for you from a spreadsheet for only 10¢ each.  See the schools and P.O. page for more information.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Full speed ahead with upgrades!

I am excited to announce that Alex and I will now be working full time to improve Math Facts Pro!  Here is our short list of major improvements, in this order:
  1. Fun games!
  2. Better methodology – fact family based, response assessment, fact test, training, and games for practice.
  3. Moving the student side out of Flash, into HTML 5/Javascript (read: play on iPads directly, and any web-enabled device)
  4. Moving the teacher side out of Flash, adding better reporting, and making it easier for district & school administrators and parents to use.


Thank you for your patience as we work to roll out these improvements, but know that we will be constantly improving.  If you would like to be updated on our progress - when we release games or when we are no longer in Flash, subscribe to this blog in the upper right-hand corner, or follow us on Facebook.
Mark Berg