Software helps personalize math instruction


“We took a fall test before I began using DreamBox … and then we tested again at the end of December,” Raymond said. “My students averaged a 40-point gain in mathematics on this test. And I really think that’s a testament to the efficacy of the program.” She noted that for special-needs students, these numbers are even more impressive.

With the success of the program for grades K-3, DreamBox is planning to expand its content to grades four and five, while increasing the content available for third graders.

Cooperative, hands-on learning

While DreamBox Learning focuses on students in the youngest grades, Pitsco Education has seen remarkable success with a math program of its own, this one specializing in algebra instruction for grades 7-10.

With diagnostic assessments, targeted remediation, individualized lesson plans, and one-to-one computer-based instruction, Pitsco’s Algebra Academy has produced some incredible results in one South Carolina high school.

The Algebra Academy has computer-based elements, but it functions as a multipart program. It combines individualized curriculum; small-group activities; cooperative, hands-on learning projects; and diagnostic assessments to deliver its progressive, three-phase system.

Students in Phase I work their way through a series of Individualized Prescriptive Lessons (IPLs) after completing diagnostic assessments. Based on their test results, they are prescribed lessons in math concepts for which they need remediation, each of which begins with a practice test and concludes with a mastery test. After demonstrating a mastery of basic math concepts in Phase I, students then progress to a project-based curriculum in Phases II and III.

“We … realize the need for individualization, because [students are] going to be all over the board in terms of their range of current abilities—so we utilize individualized software instruction as one of the first interventions for students,” said Pitsco’s director of education, Matt Frankenbery.

Pitsco follows up these individualized, computer-based lessons with cooperative, hands-on learning projects to help keep students engaged.

Students “spend time doing a lot of [work] with actual materials in their hands, versus just experiencing something on the screen,” Frankenbery said.

Phase II involves teacher-led, small-group activities, and in Phase III, students work in pairs to solve challenges. In a module called “Unsolved Mysteries,” for example, teams of students are tasked with solving a crime, and in the process they learn algebra concepts and how to apply them.

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at submissions@eschoolmedia.com.