California teachers using Hotmath.com to help their students with math homework say the tutorial web site–which recently took top honors in several categories of the latest eSchool News Readers’ Choice Awards–has helped their students pass the math portion of the California High School Exit Exam in impressive numbers.
Results from California’s 2003-2004 exam indicate that the statewide passing rate in mathematics was 74 percent–but 80 percent of students passed in the 122 California high schools that have made Hotmath available, according to data from Hotmath Inc. The results in Los Angeles suggest an even wider gap between schools that use Hotmath and those that do not. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, the district-wide pass rate was 58 percent. The rate jumped to 77 percent for the 13 Los Angeles high schools that use Hotmath.
Founded in 2000, Hotmath provides explanations and worked-out solutions to the odd-numbered problems in more than 60 popular math textbooks used in grades 6-12. More than 75 percent of U.S. students in pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, pre-calculus, and calculus are using one of the books contained in the site’s database, according to Hotmath executives.
Research has proven that kids learn better when they can see a math problem worked out, as opposed to just seeing the final answer in the back of their textbook, said Chuck Grant, president of Hotmath Inc. and one of the company’s founders. When children go home to do their math homework, having the answers in the back of the book only helps those students who already know how to do the problems, in that they can check to make sure they arrived at the right answer, he said.
“Other children sit in front of their textbooks and become frustrated because they don’t know how to begin to solve their homework problems,” he said. “Hotmath helps children actually complete their homework, and doesn’t just provide answers. It helps them learn.”
Working out the odd-numbered problems on the web site leaves the even-numbered problems free for teachers to compute in class or for students to complete on their own, Grant said. A student who solves an odd-numbered problem with Hotmath not only can make sure his or her answer is correct, but also can see if the right process was used to arrive at that answer. This gives the student more confidence to solve an even-numbered problem whose answer is not provided in the book.
Students can log in to the Hotmath site and choose their subject and textbook. Then, they indicate the page number and choose any one of the odd-numbered math problems. The site works out the problem step-by-step for the student, prompting the student to ask for hints or to select a “next step” button. Though Hotmath covers topics for grades 6-12, college students who take calculus also might be able to use the site if their textbook is included in the database.
Hotmath is available at a very reasonable price and is especially useful because students with different schedules can access the online program at their convenience, said Peter Hopping, assistant principal at Edgewood Middle School, located in the West Covina Unified School District in Los Angeles County.
“The more you can teach the same concept in different ways, the more students you will reach,” said Hopping, who also is in charge of the school’s math and science departments. Hopping said he has noticed an increase in the number of parents calling the school to obtain Hotmath passwords, and he said the site offers a great way for parents to be able to help their children with their homework and reinforce what is taught in the classroom.
Hotmath.com charges a fee for its use, but teachers and school officials can subscribe to the site for less than $1 per student, per year. If their child’s school does not subscribe to the service, parents can purchase access to Hotmath.com for $29 a semester or $49 for the entire year. The site also solves several problems for free, so those interested can see how the tutorial works. Once students are registered on the site, they can access homework help from any internet-ready computer.
Edgewood Middle School