We have tried many (did I say many, let me get out my thesaurus and get another word for many)…several…lots…numerous…a tremendous amount…scads….a myriad of math programs and have varying levels of success and interest in them. So I took on UberSmart Software as a review with a bit of skepticism, I must admit. However, I am glad I took it on because it is one of the better ones we have worked with in a while.
Not to say others haven’t been great, because they really are all unique and helpful in their own way. And since we all have children with their own preferences, learning styles, and needs, it is great that there are so many math programs out there to help these diverse students. We just found that UberSmart Math Facts is a program that works for us.
The UberSmart program was developed by David Kocur, a homeschool dad who wanted a great way to drill math facts with his own children. When he couldn’t find what he wanted, he developed his own program with great success.
What does it do? Once you register your students into the UberSmart Math Facts program, the program tests their knowledge of math and then proceeds to drill facts from 0 to 20 in each of the 4 areas of math. There are assessments as well as beginning counting functions. The program is very simple – it presents math fact drills in flash card format (remember flashcards) and timed tests. The program works on the rote memorization of math facts, something we, as a classical educating family find important. As the student masters a math fact, the program remembers this and does not show that particular fact as often in review of the timed test helping the student move on to rote memorization of the facts they have not quite mastered. This reduces the overall time it takes to master the facts by not being overly repetitive on already mastered facts at the expense of spending the time on new facts.
How its set up. The program is broken down into Learn, Practice, Test, Compete, Report, and Maintain. There are two options in the Learn category - Beginner or Intermediate. Beginner covers addition and subtraction using dot cards, this is what we used with my Kindergarten student. The Intermediate uses flash cards and covers addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, which is the level we used with our 4th grade student. The student simply views the problem then clicks show to view the answer. Beginners work with dots to count while intermediate students work with number flashcards.
Once the student works through the learning phase, they move to the Practice phase. This phase is also divided into Beginner and Intermediate but allows the student to type in the answer within the allotted time. The student does about 2 minutes of practice and if they do not key in the right answer (or no answer in the allotted time) the correct answer is shown before moving on.
The Test section has 2 sections – assessment and mastery. The assessment test has the student look at counting dots, odd/even numbers, counting forwards and assesses their knowledge of the category. The mastery section is a timed test of the facts (you can hide the time bar if that is something that is helpful to your student).
In the Compete section the student competes against other UberSmart Math Facts users. They are ranked with the other users based on their mastery level of the facts in their grade level – elementary, middle school, high school, and adult).
The Report section is very nicely done and user friendly. It uses smiley faces to show the facts the student has mastered and highlights areas that need additional practice and have yet to be mastered. Since my oldest used this independently the report section was good for us to review together to see how she is doing without me hanging over her watching her test.
What does it cost? UberSmart Math Facts is very economical. Like I said, it is a one-time purchase to own the downloadable software and you can have up to 8 users on that one download. The costs is $24.95 but there is a discount code for 30% off the new version, valid until Sept 30, 2014 – v4 Early Bird
What do I need? You will need a Windows based computer (XP, vista, 7 or 8 – sorry, it doesn’t work on Macs)
What ages or grades it is for? The program states that UberSmart Math Facts is for K-6th grade. This is subjective of course but it’s basically for all levels of math practice from beginning to advanced – anyone that wants to practice their math facts can use it.. You can tell the program what you want to practice and it will provide you with those problems in a timed or untimed environment to work through the problems.
What We Liked- We really liked the simplicity of UberSmart Math Facts. The look and feel of a desk of flashcards made it manageable and not threatening. I liked that you could adjust the time limits on the timed tests because for some students a timer is very intimidating (like my oldest) but if you can adjust the time to suit them they will learn to move through the facts more quickly but will not become frustrated that they are NEVER getting them before the timer runs out. You can adjust as they get better at the facts themselves. We liked that you could see the next problem on the test while working through the timed test. I think its a natural thing to feel like you can move on, even though you are working on one particular problem. You can also skip a problem you are hung up on, which my daughter liked. At the end of your test it tells you how you did and has encouraging remarks, which I thought was good. You can even print a certificate of mastery as you move through your mastery levels. I also liked that we could learn and practice the facts we wanted anywhere from 0-20. So for instance with my Kindergartener I didn’t turn on all the facts to +20 I only did 0-2′s at first. But obviously this was not the case with my 4th grader who got all addition and subtraction but up to 12 in multiplication for now and I can turn on the rest when I’m ready to work the 12s-20s.
My kids really enjoyed MASTERING a set. This made them feel great and the program encouraged them and told them their next step. My daughter really wanted to see that 100% and many times started over. She also wrote down her times and was tracking them herself to see if she beat them. Nothing like a little competition with yourself.
Overall, we were really impressed with the simplicity of the program yet how thorough and complete UberSmart Math Facts was. We will definitely be continuing to learn and review our math facts with UberSmart Software.
You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog.