Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Facts First by Saxon Homeschool /Skills Tutor

Remember I said there would be more MATH reviews up and coming.... well, here's another (And there will be more!!! Yup! Math intensive at the TOS Crew this year! :) ) This time the Crew were given a free 90 day trial to facts first, an online math practice program that promotes fluency in the basic skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division(so ideal for K-4th grade).

If your children are enticed by "Creating" (and changing up) avatars, and "arcade-type" games, then this might be a fun supplement for your early elementary student.

The first thing to do is take a "pretest" for the first set of facts for the given operation (generally starting with the number 1) (you can see a screen shot below of the first Division screen)
Facts First "Choose a topic"
After initially setting up their avatar(Starting with something fun...) , the basic concept is "Something Done, Something Fun".... The student must complete a lesson (where they learn or show mastery of two specific math problems, like 22/ 2 and 24/2 as you see above) going through new facts, commutative property, practice, quiz, and scoring, at which point they are given 5 minutes of "arcade" time. The Arcade time consists of 5 games that reinforce what was learned in a relaxed atmosphere before moving on to another lesson. The student can choose which game to play, and can switch to another game in the course of their 5 minutes, if so desired.

So, now that you have an idea of "what" facts first is, I'll give you our impressions:
  • Even though the target age is lower than my 12 year old, I signed both of my kids up~ In part because RJP likes to "play" with avatars, and while the math facts practice isn't terrible, the target range is most certainly correct.... However, if you have an older student that is struggling with their facts, and they like the "arcade" style, this could be a good fit.
  • The 9 year old enjoyed having facts first as his "reward" for getting other schoolwork done, so in his case, the arcade incentive worked well, and his math facts got a little more of a work out.
  • My 9 YO also like the fact that the math work isn't "timed" per se, you just have to go as fast as you can... timed work can make him anxious, even if he knows what he's doing cold!
  • If your student has mastered a specific set, they "test out" of that pretest, and it is recommended that they go on to the next pretest, so not TOO much time is spent on facts already mastered. This is one of the things I like about these "adaptive" online programs~ They eliminate a lot of wasted time for students that are proficient.
  • The "Visual" of how many facts have been mastered can be encouraging!
  • The process of "Pretesting" may be a little slow for your advanced 2nd-4th grader
  • The "speed" of the games may be a little slow, particularly for kids used to fast-paced video games...(Although the pace may be just right for the youngest students...)
  • The speed of the "Scoring" section is a little slow (But that could just be my ancient computer... not sure on that one)(Can you tell that I hate to waste time "waiting" ??? ;) )
I hope that this information is useful to you, as you choose how to most wisely spend your homeschool dollars. If you would like a wider variety of opinions, please visit the TOS Crew Blog, to see what my "Mates" had to say.


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