May 20, 2012

TOS Review: CapJaxMathFacts

Memorizing math facts. Everybody hates it. Teachers, students, even my Basset Hound (no, I'm not kidding). But most people will agree that it is a necessary evil. I am one of those people. I want my kids to have those facts memorized and out of their way! However, having four kids right in a row means I have been struggling with math drills (do them? don't do them? use flash cards? use games? scream and stick my  head in the sand?) for a very long time and there is no end in sight. So I am always interested in a new, fun, different way to drag somebody through math fact drills.
Enter CapJaxMathFacts, a computer based drill that covers all four operations. There is a ton of information on the website, but here is basically how it works. Each child signs in and his work is recorded. The child or the teacher can choose the operation (mixing more than one if she likes), the level (plus ones, plus twos, etc. even negative numbers), the number of problems in each session, how much time the child has to answer the question (in the practice setting; when they play for ratings they must answer in three seconds or less for it to be a "Super" answer) and whether or not to practice or to play for rating. Here is a screen shot that shows you the login page:

I like that each fact is timed individually. I like that I can decide how fast they need to be to get a Super answer (in practice mode) because my kids are all different in the way they think and are at different levels. Basically, I love how customizable this game is!
I like that they can see how they are doing as they work because at the top of the page they can see: how many facts they have done in that session; how many Super answers they have gotten in that session; and what their average answer time is. I can also view an overall progress graph.
I really like that I can view a summary of their session and I know which facts they attempted, which ones they got Super answers on, and how quickly they answered each question.
This is not an "exciting" program. It is not a prettied up, oodles of fun, non-stop thrill-a-minute. It does, however, get the job done. And quite frankly, I like that in a math program. I find it irritating when kids get "rewarded" with silliness for getting the answer wrong and I am so happy that CapJaxMathFax does not do that! The motivation is to improve their ratings. My kids are competitive and this aspect really worked for them, the two big kids are currently racing to the top. They also liked being able to "practice" before they worked on their ratings. Their favorite part, though, is the quotes from famous people that show up on their screen if they do well on a level. They giggle a lot over these quotes!
My favorite part is that I know what they have done and I am confident that ALL the facts are being covered and that they are truly achieving mastery. And my other favorite part is that when the kid signs in, caps don't matter! I can't tell you the amount of frustration we have endured trying to remember just how Mommy signed up each child and/or convincing the youngest among us that they have to include that capital letter at the first of their name! I bless Cap Jax a 100,000 times for this alone!
You can buy CapJaxMathFacts as a download or as a CD, and it is available for both Windows and Macintosh. You can read all about the program here and on the Crew Blog you can find out other Crew Members thoughts, opinions, and experiences.

DISCLAIMER: I received a free download of this product for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and my children's.

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