Teachers'Picks: Math Software

Use that computer lab to liven up your math lessons. We had real teachers test the latest online activities, learning games, and DVD offerings. Here are their favorites.

Best Stash of Online Lessons
Hotmath.com has pumped up their site by adding nearly 1,000 video lessons to help kids practice tough topics like pre-algebra. “Students like the quick lessons and step-by-step examples,” says our tester. “Perfect for upper-level grades!” www.hotmath.com; $29 for a yearly subscription

Best Character-Driven Activities
Math’scool, a DVD series, uses compelling characters and storylines to introduce topics such as operations, geometry, and measurement. “It presents a middle school math curriculum through entertaining animation, concrete examples, and real-world problems,” says one tester. “Each module is designed so the instruction and tests can be used for kids of different ages with different levels. The DVD format gives the program real flexibility.” www.bestquest.com; $249 per module

Best Free Resource
Looking to hook kids’ interest with an entertaining resource? Brainpop Jr. is a free Web site filled with online animated movies for math and other core curricula for grades K–3—all aligned with standards. “The site is really easy to use and understand,” says our tester. “The online movie introduces a topic and explains it clearly. The site also lets teachers download paper and online quizzes to use in school or to give to students to try at home. It’s a great teacher tool for the classroom!” www.brainpopjr.com; free

Best For Extra Practice
Straight Curve Mathematics offers an online supplemental curriculum that uses interactive lessons to reinforce core standards—especially in the challenging areas of decimals, fractions, measurement, probability, and problem-solving. “This is a great way to have students practice concepts taught in class,” one of our teacher testers asserts. “It’s very interactive, and does a great job of identifying areas students need help with as well as presenting tricky math concepts.” www.plato.com; $20 per student

Best Learning Puzzles
VersaTiles Math, available on CD-ROM, offers each grade level hundreds of self-correcting activities. “VersaTiles are ideal for tactile learners, since students can self-correct their work by doing problems like matching patterns and identifying shapes,” reports our tester. “Students can work independently or in pairs, and the CD-ROM is great both for students who need to be challenged and those who just require extra practice. Students love it because they get immediate feedback—and the program is fun to use.” www.etacuisenaire.com; set of 10, $109.50

Best for Saving The World With Math
With Math Blaster, students use math skills to save the universe from evil robots. “Math Blaster is a very lively game that has excellent graphics and sound effects,” one tester reports. “It covers all of the basic math facts and correlates perfectly with our curriculum. This game format really appeals to the many kids who love video games and computers.” www.KnowledgeAdventureSchool.com; $149.95 for a lab pack of 5

Best for Building Sportsmanship
Kid’s College is a fun online game-based supplement for math, reading, and language arts for K–8 students. Teachers can select state standards or skill levels, students can select favorite logos, and the program will then automatically generate a series of appropriate questions. “Students love that they can play a round of sports to learn.” says a tester. Another says, “When children are using Kid's College in the school lab, there is an energy and buzz in the room that shows me they are engaged and learning.” www.learningthroughsports.com; starts at $6500 for school-wide installation

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