Math is a subject that many parents feel comfortable with. It’s not as subjective as reading and writing; most of the time it’s either right or wrong. But the math your student will learn, and how they will learn it, is not quite what you are used to.

What’s different

Your student will learn math using digital tools. The two main software tools we use are Khan Academy and MobyMax.

There are a few unique features about this approach that you will notice:

  • Students have no math books: We will practice math using websites on chromebooks. Students can get to these websites from home using any computer. Khan Academy also has an app that can be installed on tablets or phones.
  • Writing math is still important! Students will use whiteboards or paper to solve problems, and enter answers on their screen. Even though we are using digital tools, it’s still essential to solve problems by hand to learn multiplication, division, fractions, and many other problems.
  • Students have no paper homework. I’ll ask students to work on math for at least 15 minutes a night using Khan Academy or MobyMax.
  • Students learn using teaching from me, hints from the software, or by watching tutorials or videos. We are really trying to teach students to be Christopher Columbus. He didn’t have a map when he sailed for the New World. He had to teach himself. We want students to be able to teach themselves using available information, and to help themselves get unstuck. I’m here to help students that still need helping after trying on their own.

Why do this?

Some parents see using digital math tools as a big change from the paper math book. Some even think about asking for a paper math book. We are most comfortable with what we know. But math is one of the absolutely best use-cases for technology.

Think of how many times students have worked on a math worksheet, diligently solving all 20 math problems, only to get to school the next day and find out they did the entire page wrong! Or a student that has absolutely no idea how to begin, so they leave the page blank.

Technology solves this problem by providing instant feedback. If a student gets the first problem wrong, they can look over the solution, look at a hint, watch a tutorial video. They can teach themselves how to improve, or learn that they need to ask someone for help. This speeds up the pace of learning. Students who use digital math tools diligently typically learn much more than a year’s worth of math in a year. Our class average growth is sometimes near two year’s worth of math improvement in a single year! And it’s not uncommon to see our class performance near the top of the list in our district.

How it works

The math block in Room 130 is about one hour long. Here is a typical day in math:

  1. Math Skills Warmup. Students will use MobyMax Test Prep Math to review math from the year before. This will help students fill in gaps in their learning.
  2. Fact Fluency. Students use MobyMax Fact Fluency to work math facts for about 4 minutes daily with the goal of mastering all math facts up to division.
  3. Math mini-lesson. We will usually work on a whole group problem of the day in order to learn a new skill.
  4. Independent work or small groups. Students work independently, or in groups, to practice the skill we just practiced in class. Students that are working ahead will start something new. Others may try to finish something from another day. In this way, students are usually working at their own pace. Skills not finished in class can be finished at home or on another day. I’ll ask students to work on math for 15 minutes a night at home Monday through Thursday.

Getting a grade

Students earn a grade in math based on two types of assignments.

  • Skills mastery¬†is graded based on Khan Academy mastery levels or MobyMax skill percentages.
  • STAR Math Tests are given monthly and will gauge a student’s math level.

How to help

Parents can help their student with math in a number of ways. First, check to see that your student is working on Khan Academy or MobyMax Math each night. If you student encounters a problem during the work, never give the answer. Always answer a question with a question: “Mom, I don’t understand this.” “Okay, where can we look to get some help?” Both software tools have hints, tutorials, and videos, and Khan Academy also shows solutions for correct answers.

About math facts

Not knowing math facts becomes a significant problem by the middle of the year when the class is involved in column multiplication and long division. If your student is not making fast enough progress mastering math facts using the 4-minute class time, you might need to have your student practice math facts at home, too. Your student can access MobyMax Fact Fluency from home, or you could practice through quizzing by you, flash cards, electronic learning games, the Internet, or computer software.

Learn together!

Remember, you won’t always remember everything from¬†fourth grade math at first glance; the brain remembers easily what it uses most. It’s okay to admit that you haven’t done this in a while. Take the opportunity to learn the math together. Show that you value curiosity, hard work and a learning spirit!


This page last updated March 11, 2020 @ 4:17 pm.