August 30, 2011

CapJaxMathFax and UberSmart Math Facts programs

I had the chance to look into two math facts practice programs, titled CapJaxMathFax and UberSmart Math Facts. Both programs drill math facts and keep track of your progress.


My testing "girl" liked them both just fine. Her focus definitely was on getting the percentages on the progress chart to go up (in both programs)!

CapJaxMathFax


Here's a screen of CapJaxMathFax showing a math problem to solve. It alternates the dot and cross symbols for multiplication. It also alternates showing the problems vertically or horizontally. The vertical line is my cursor blinking in the empty space.



If you answer correctly and in less than 3 seconds, it shows you the word "SUPER". Then you get the next fact by pressing "ENTER."

Personally I would have liked a little clearer workspace, but all these colors, buttons, text, etc. on the screen seemingly didn't bother my daughter.






Here is where you select what operation you want to practice, how long, etc. The "word problems" aren't really word problems, but just math facts with words instead of with symbols.




In CapJaxMathFax, you can either practice, or build your ratings. Ratings can be built when you can get "SUPER" answers—those where you answer in 3 seconds or less.

You start off with ratings of 0 in each math type. Your ratings climb as you work through each building level in the math skill types (+, -, x, ÷).

Here are my ratings after playing for a little while:





And this is the general progress chart:




The software has a free evaluation version that you can download here. Website: www.CapJax.com. The price for the software is $19.95.


UberSmart Math Facts


UberSmart Math Facts had a cleaner interface that I liked better, but it has less options. The math facts were shown as flash cards. You get a progress chart, but there aren't any "ratings" as in CapJaxMathFax.

There are three ways to practice. The first one is to View Flash Cards. The second one is to View Flash Cards and check the Beat the Clock checkbox. The third one is to take a Test. The first, "View Flash Cards" option, simply shows you the flash card and you just think the answer in your mind, and you can have the program show you the answer.

"Beat the Clock" is the main way to practice (this won't affect your progress chart). When you check this box, the flash cards become interactive and you must enter an answer before the computer answers it for you. If you enter the wrong answer, or the computer answers before you do, the correct answer is shown and that fact is moved to the end of the set, so you need to answer it again. The facts you didn't get are repeated in the set until you get them correct.



Once you think you're ready, you can take a "test". The results from tests will be shown in your progress chart. This is how you set up the practicing using the "test" option:



Here, I would like to see an option to select several tables for a test, such as 4s, 8s, and 9s. Currently it has an option for choosing one table at a time, or all of them.

This is how the flashcards look like in the test.



If you miss some facts in a test, the program will tell you what you missed after the test, and show you the correct answers.

After missing or answering slowly some facts in a particular test, such as in the 4s for multiplication, if you go to the "View Flash Cards" for that same kind of practice, you have the option of doing a "focused" viewing of flash cards. This makes the program only show you flash cards of the problems you missed or were slow in answering in the "test".

And lastly, here's the progress chart. Your goal is to get to 100%, and if you are not only 100% correct but also fast enough, it shows a neat star in the chart!

My "guinea pig" daughter was plenty motivated by trying to get the progress chart go up to 100%! (And that's how it should be, by the way... that the student would be internally motivated to learn something for the learning's sake.)






You can download a free 30-day trial of UberSmart Math Facts here.

The main website is Mathfacts.ubersmartsoftware.com/mathfacts.php. The software costs $24.95.




The main feature I'd like to see in these two programs is being more adaptive so that the program would drill those facts much more (not just one extra time) that the child has trouble with.


I would definitely recommend using something computerized to help children master their math facts. My children have enjoyed trying out many different programs and systems, and I feel it has been quite helpful. BUT not at first--only AFTER they have understood the concepts and the patterns in them!

I also recommend you use the free trials to check and see what program  your child likes best.

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