"Hmmm. This is different, Mom. Not bad different, but really different. What's it supposed to be teaching me?" Lol, this was Canon's first reaction to The Critical Thinking Co.'s math software download, Math Analogies level 2. He had never seen an analogy before, and he was intrigued. Being an average but eager math student, I was excited to introduce him to analogies. His mind works in interesting ways, and I love watching him go about a problem to see how he will solve it. It is rarely how I expect him to, but most of the time, he succeeds.
I'm sure you remember what analogies are...no? Well, see if this sounds familiar: "This goes to this as that goes to that." Yes, the dreaded section on standardized tests that most people chewed through half their pencil stash on. (Actually, I'm kind of a nerd - I enjoyed them!)
The Critical Thinking Co. has developed a basic program introducing students to these analogies. They started out simple, but gradually ramped up to some pretty difficult analogies. I will admit, I got stumped a few times myself. Canon is a fifth grader, and he had not seen all the math concepts that were covered, but he always gave it his best shot. I was pleased with his interest level and comprehension of the material.
Some pros to the program:
- It gave Canon a first time look in a non-threatening way to a math process that intimidates many adults.
- It showed me some areas that we will need to work on in the future.
- It was a great change of pace right in the middle of a winter slump and gave us something to look forward to in our school day.
- Canon enjoyed the extra screen time - he doesn't get to do a lot on Mom's laptop!
- It did not give you any idea what grade level you were working through. I felt the content was a bit higher than Canon was ready for.
- There were no solutions or explanations when Canon got a problem wrong. As I said earlier, some of the analogies were on concepts he'd not had yet, thus had no experience or ideas on how to solve them.
- When Canon was in the first attempt set, he had a success rate of 84% at problem 100. Then he declined to a 66%. I assumed they were getting harder or increasing in grade level. However, when we went to the second attempt, it was a random selection of what had been covered in the first attempt set. The second attempt only had 51, the 3rd attempt had 16, and the 4th attempt had 6; the percentages then didn't really give me any certainty that he had improved or understood what he had done correctly.
Overall, I was glad to show Canon what analogies were. We live in a state where standardized tests are not required, so I hadn't even introduced them to him yet. It was fun and eye opening, and I'm glad we were chosen for this review. I am looking forward to going through it again in a few months after he has completed his 5th grade math and see how he does then. It was good practice for him to use his critical thinking skills - always a good thing!
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