Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mad Dog Math

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Mad Dog Math is an innovative math program that provides students a fun way to drill basic math facts. The creater, Julie Kotoff, has over 30 years of educational experience. Mad Dog Math was first developed and perfected while Julie was a third grade teacher. She wanted to help her students master multiplication and division facts. Later as an administrator, Julie developed the addition and subtraction portions of the program. Her beloved dog, Ruff, served as the model for the program mascot.

This product that has been successfully used in schools is now also available at home. According to the website, Mad Dog Math--At Home is beneficial for the following users:
  • A family whose child is in a Mad Dog Math school/classroom
  • A teacher who is using Mad Dog Math in the classroom
  • A home school family who is using Mad Dog Math
  • After school programs using Mad Dog Math
  • Tutoring centers using Mad Dog Math
  • Any child who wants to improve his computation skills
  • A parent who is using Mad Dog Math at home to supplement what is going on in his child’s classroom
Program Details
Within the program, there are three levels of difficulty. As the student begins any given level, he will be given sets of 20 problems within a specified "fact family"(e.g. addition for digits 0-3). A student can do as many sets of 20 problems as they need to pass that level. Students "pass" a fact family with no more than 2 wrong. If a student had more errors (or needs to improve their time), they can then "Fetch" a new set of randomly selected problems.

There are three clubs a student is striving to join: 2-Minute Club, 1-Minute Club, and 30-Second Club. Once a student is ready to work toward a club, he can set the Timed Period for 2 minutes. In order to become part of the "2-Minute Club," the student must pass all fact families within addition and subtraction (for Levels 1 and 2) or multiplication and division (Level 3), completing them in 2 minutes or less.

Here is an example of a page of problems for Level 2. Notice that the Time Allowed has been set to 2 Minutes and the Fact Family being attempted is Zero to Six. This user is working on addition problems. When he is ready to begin he just clicks "Time Me" and starts answering:

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After each set of 20 problems are completed, the student receives immediate feedback regarding incorrect answers and how much time they took (in the screen shot above, a user name was not entered, so the program provides a log in reminder at the bottom). When he has successfully answered the addition problems, he can then select subtraction for the same fact family.

For Level 1, the student must complete all the fact families in both addition and subtraction in 2 minutes or less. Once he has passed all of those levels, he will earn the 2-Minute Club sticker which will be displayed on his Mad Dog Math page. He would then redo all the levels within Level 1 trying to complete them in 1 minute or less. Once he has received the 1-Minute Club sticker, they would then work toward the 30-Second Club.

Level 1 covers introduces Addition and Subtraction in bite-size increments up through 18. Level 2 reviews 1-6, and then focuses more on facts for 7 through 18. Level 3 features Multiplication and Division. Here is a glimpse at a sample progress report from Level 3:

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After each set, a student's score is shown as well as the amount of time it took to complete. Periodically, the child is also told how many more passing scores are needed to earn the club sticker. Students progress at their own pace and are only competing with themselves.

It is possible to use the program without the time limiting feature. On the drill page, you can select "No Limit" for Time Allowed. Student will still hit the "Time Me" button to track their progress but they can have as much time as needed to complete. This can be a great advantage for a student with some learning challenges or for a student just newly beginning to learn math skills.

Our Experience
My 8 year old son was at first a little intimidated and nervous about this program. But in no time he was reminding me that he needed to do Mad Dog Math. It quickly became a favorite part of his day. We usually didn't spend more than 10 minutes at any given time. As he passed fact families, his confidence grew.

My 11 year old tried out the program using Level 3 for drilling multiplication and division facts. Although not quite as interested as her younger brother, it provided a valuable tool for really drilling her math facts.

The best aspect for me as a teacher, was having my student's work automatically timed and scored. My child could keep advancing without waiting for mom to correct his work!

I think this program would be an especially valuable tool to use over the summer to keep a child's math skills sharp between grades. After passing the 30 second club, a student could also challenge themselves to do the drills in even less time.

Program Strengths
  • Students work at own pace
  • Self-timed and self-corrected drills
  • Immediate feedback of scores and time
  • Tracks which fact families have been passed
  • Fun way to practice basic math drills
  • Fosters mastery of concepts
  • Incrementally helps increase speed in basic math drills
Suggested Improvements
  • Have a way to automatically advance students when they have passed a fact family (currently, student must physically select next level; if you forget to change the level, you'll be repeating work already passed)
  • Have an administration site on home version for parents where they can see at a glance the progress for all their students (instead of logging in as each child to see where they are)
  • Provide data to parents for each level regarding student accuracy, times, and number of attempts before passing (either as admin site or delivered to parents by e-mail)
Product Information
Targeted user age is K-3rd grade & up. The downloadable product is available as a 32-bit or 64-bit download and can be purchased directly from Mad Dog Math. Pricing levels include:
  • 1 Year License: $19.95
  • 2 Year License: $29.95
  • Perpetual License: $39.95
If you prefer a paper and pencil version of the math drills, you can purchase the Home School Mastery Binder for $69.99. Binders can be purchased for the following grade levels: Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade and 3rd Grade & up. The same materials are also available on CD-ROM for $69.99. Here's a sample of a paper/pencil Kindergarten drill sheet.

Other products offered by Mad Dog Math:
  • Mad Dog Math Flashcards $14.99
  • Mad Dog Math Timer $6.99 (use to time paper/pencil version, time child's computer use)
  • Mad Dog Math Certificates $10.99 (set of 50)
Check the website for information for school district use. You can see Mad Dog Math in action in a school on this video. A PC based version for schools will also be available soon.

You can read testimonies from satisfied users of Mad Dog Math. And make sure you visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog to read reviews of Mad Dog Math by other home educating families who tried it.

If you'd like to try the program, you can download a trial version that enables you to sample portions of the program.

Contact Information
Website: www.maddogmath.com
E-mail: julie@maddogmath.com
Phone:(562) 533-5772
Mailing Address: Mad Dog Math, 4562 Ocana Avenue, Lakewood, CA 90713

Disclaimer: We received a trial download of Mad Dog Math for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

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