Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mad Dog Math review

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about reviewing another math drill program.  We have had several this year, and I was afraid that Bop was simply burnt out on computerized drills, period.  I determined to give Mad Dog Math a fair try, however, and I urged her to do the same.  Mad Dog Math is a completely original math drill program (I know, I didn’t know you could be original about math drills, either, until I saw this.)  that started as a classroom program using worksheets and a timer. 
We received a download of the Mad Dog Math computer version, modeled after the original pencil-and-paper version.  You can get several different licenses for this program, but most home school families will probably want the “perpetual” license for $39.99.  There are also one year ($19.99) and two year ($29.99) licenses available.  This program covers all four operations- addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  Addition/subtraction and multiplication/division are drilled together.  This is appropriate for children just learning their addition facts, up through high school age students who jest need to up their speed.   We used this program in Level One, addition and subtraction, so that is what my review will cover.
First, a little background.  We have struggled with Bop learning her facts, and there are so many things that we have tried without success.  She KNOWS all of her addition facts, but she is sometimes painfully slow remembering them.  Since Math U See stresses mastery, I have struggled with this.  They are supposed to know the facts as quickly as they know their own name, so I have been conflicted about whether to go on, or drill endlessly until her speed is up. 
I assumed that this program would be exactly like any other computer drill program, but I was so surprised by it.  The first thing that I noticed is the way the facts are drilled.  Instead of covering a ‘fact family’ at a time, this program just works on a very tiny bite at a time.  For example, the first section to be learned in Level One is the “0-3” section.  I assumed that this would include all of the facts in these families, all the way up to 10+2 and 10+3.   I was wrong!  This “0-3” fact family includes only those problems whose addends AND sums fall between 0-3.  They will start out drilling problems such as 1+1, 3+0, 2+1, etc.  Nothing higher.  Talk about baby steps! 
After that first fact family, the progression is similarly easy.  The next fact families are 1-4, 2-5, 3-6, and then it jumps to 0-6.  Nothing new in this family, just more variety.   This is paced so that the child will pass their drills almost every time.  What a confidence booster!  By introducing only those problems that have sums and addends in that ‘fact family’, the child progresses baby-step by baby-step, but steadily, into mastery.  At the same time, they are also working on the subtraction facts in eh same fact family.
You can see here how the 0-6 fact family only includes those numbers with sums up to 6, and this is level two, which includes inverse operations. 
But that’s not all!  The student’s first goal is to master the two-minute club.  There are 20 question in each fact family to be answered in under two minutes.  After going through all the families up to 12-18, (which includes problems such as 11+6 and 7+7) the child will officially be in the two minute club for all of those fact families.  But they are not done yet… they will start back over at the beginning trying for the one-minute club!  And when they have mastered that, they will start back over going for the 30 second club.  As a mother who never learned the math facts well, this is an amazing thought… to be able to answer 20 problems in 30 seconds.  Wow.  I want to give that gift of speed to my children. 
Really quickly I want to give an overview of the different levels.  I already told you about level one.  Level two is still addition and subtraction, but it progresses quickly for those older children who know the facts but need speed.  The fact families are introduced more quickly- 0-6, 7-9, etc.  Level 3 is multiplication and division, and the challenge level covers all of the operations in different ways… along with some puzzle-type problems.  Of course, we didn’t do much with this part, so you will have to read some of the other reviews to find out more about the upper levels.
PhotobucketTo be completely honest (and I always am)  I love this program.  And Bop loves it.  So is there anything I don’t like?  Well we had an incident with the timer… you can see the numbers counting, and we were fine until Bop noticed them.  She completely froze up like she does whenever she is being timed.  She knew that it was timing her so that she could be in the ‘club’, but it was seeing it that did her in.  I just stuck a little sticker on the screen so she can’t see it and she does fine.  Silly girl.  It would be great if Mad Dog Math would add a “hide timer” option for those with equally timer-phobic children.  However, since that will probably require a lot of revisions, until then I will just use the sticker.  ;)  I would also recommend not starting this with children who don’t know their facts, at least the lower ones, already.  If they do know at least some of them they will move through them pretty quickly, only spending a day or two on most of the families.  That is incredibly encouraging for children!
There are several other ways to buy this program, including the paper version.  It covers addition/subtraction and multiplication/division in two separate levels, so you have to buy them both to get everything that is available in the computer version.  Visit The Old Schoolhouse blog for more reviews of Mad Dog Math and go to the Mad Dog Math website for a free demo version.
I received this product free of charge
as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew,
for review purposes. I promise to be honest
and fair in my reviews, and I received no
other compensation in exchange for my review.
to read more reviews on this product.

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