What is “Math Whizz”?
The search for a reliable, interesting computer tutorial program in math has been a long one for me. There are a lot of standards aligned programs out there and as a teacher I’ve sat through many a sales presentation about them. However, I’m really sorry to say this, especially because I’m sure people have put a great deal of time into developing them, they are BORING! If we’re going to really get solid home or classroom use out of them, then they need to be engaging for children.
For the past five years I’ve used a tutorial program called Math Whizz. It’s from the UK and is used in different countries and it’s FUN! The way it works is that you purchase a monthly membership, either through your school (cheaper if you get it set up) or at home. Children go on the website and are given an assessment, which will place them at a math level. Then they are given lessons and tests on a wide variety of math subjects at their own level. The lessons are colorful and pretty engaging. I will admit that some lessons are more engaging than others and that my students struggle mightily with the metric system lessons, as we do not use the metric system and so they forget it quickly. However, all the lessons are mathematically valuable and most are very engaging. As they work through lessons and tests kids earn credits which they can use to “purchase” fun toys and pets in the Math Whizz store. There are also some other cool features. There is a “replay” section in which kids can practice a topic they’ve already mastered, such as multiplication facts. The trick with replay is to use it sparingly. Some kids will live in replay which doesn’t increase their skills per se.
Another cool feature is the challenge option. Kids can challenge each other to complete an exercise with better speed and accuracy. I love that the challenge can be against a student they’ve never met from another country. There’s no icky contact between kids like you might have on a live gaming site, but it is fun to see that you were doing a challenge against someone from Japan or the UK.
In the classroom Math Whizz can be used to differentiate. It’s a great way to get kids some drill practice that isn’t boring. If they wear headphones and listen to instruction, they can learn new ways to approach problems and even learn new mathematics. I’ve had kids working on higher level algebra while other kids are working on long division; quite a range of topics and difficulty levels. While a group of students are working on Math Whizz, the teacher can be working with another group of students. In fact some schools use this model every day: half the kids on the computer, half the kids work with the teacher, then switch. It’s a way to bring “class size” down for the instructional piece while still using time well. I really like knowing that my students are learning math and working on math while I am working with a much smaller group.
Math Whizz is very accommodating about helping you get started and there are some really awesome data tracking features for parents and teachers. You can really see everything the kids are doing and help them to improve by talking with them about their Math Whizz progress.
Try it! If you find something equally good, send it to the Math Fairy and we’ll share!
Have fun with math every day!