Wednesday, May 18, 2011
TOS Review: Mad Dog Math
Over the course of this year, we've been able to try several different math programs, many of them with the specific goal of getting a child to practice their basic math facts. I've reached the conclusion that all of them will help a child get faster at these facts, assuming of course that your child actually uses the program.
Our latest drill program, Mad Dog Math, has a few features that make it a better fit for our family than some of the other ones that I've tried. Perhaps if I outline the things that Brennan and I liked about the program, you'll be able to tell whether your children would like it too.
The basic program interface is quite simple. There are twenty problems on the screen at a time. You can adjust the difficulty level, the fact families that are covered, and the time allowed. The goal is to finish all of the drills in 2 minutes a piece. After earning the 2 minute club sticker, you can continue working to get a 1 minute sticker and even a 30 second one.
The first thing I like is the way Mad Dog Math waits until all 20 problems are answered before checking them. This gives student the ability to backspace and correct errors. I've found that many drill software programs check the problem immediately and do not allow the student to self-correct if the wrong key gets accidentally pushed.
Brennan does much better with a program that lets him finish before a complete set before telling him which ones he got incorrect. He would sometimes miss a few problems early in a session and get too frustrated to continue when using programs that give immediate feedback. With Mad Dog Math, he is more willing to continue working through to the end of the assigned problems.
Mad Dog Math allows a student to practice either with or without the timer. Obviously, you have to use the timer to earn a club sticker, but I like the option to enter answers without the pressure to do it at a certain speed. This option would be a great way to introduce math drills to a student when they are first learning their math facts.
Finally, I like the way you can see all 20 problems at one time and see how many problems you have left to complete. Often, I've worked with other math drills and wondered how many more problems were going to be thrown at me before I'd get to take a break.
The final Challenge level is a wonderful feature of this program. It drills a mixed set of problems covering all four operations. It also has a special Kennel Trouble section that challenges the student to do two operations at a time to fill out a chart, for instance add the two numbers and then multiply by 5. It certainly made me think a little harder when I tried to finish in less than 90 seconds. This level of math drill takes a fairly simple program and adds enough challenge to interest older students -- ones that still need practice but are easily bored with seeing the same simple problems they've done before.
The Mad Dog Math program costs $19.99 for a one-year license, $29.99 for a two-year license, and $39.99 for a license that does not expire. You can use the program with as many children (or adults) as you wish. Unfortunately it is only available for use on Windows based computers at this time.
If you'd like to see what other homeschool families thought about using Mad Dog Math with their children, please visit The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog.