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First in MATH

By Sally Finley - Posted Mar 1, 2007
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Overall Rating:5 Stars
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Located online at:

Company: Suntex International, Inc., 3311 Fox Hill Road, Easton, PA 18045. Phone: (800) 242-4542.

Access Fee: $8 per student, 1-year subscription fee. Volume discount pricing is available. Six-month subscriptions are offered for parents and homeschoolers.

Audience: Grades K-8, students and teachers. The program is especially appropriate for use with students in the upper and middle grades.

Format: Internet-based math resource: text, graphics.

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows operating systems: Flash Player 7, Netscape 4.8, and Internet Explorer 4.0. JavaScript must be enabled. Content Advisor must be disabled.

Macintosh operating systems: Mac OS 8.6 to 9.2, Flash Player 7, Netscape 4.0, and Internet Explorer 5.1 (IE 5 is not compatible with Flash 7). JavaScript must be enabled. OSX will function with Safari 1.0, Internet Explorer 5.2, and Netscape 7.1.

Description: This Web site provides access to the 24 Game series, mathematics fact practice, test preparation, and critical thinking skills activities. The skill set groups and bonus games are based on national math standards. Students use a unique user i.d. and password to access the program at school or home.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Access: From the Home page, guests may click on the Visitor button to access information about the program or to play a sample game. Registered users can enter a user i.d. and password to gain access to their individual subscriptions. Installation/Access Rating: A

Content/Features: Sequential skill sets provide three 24 Game editions and bonus modules that enable students to earn electronic "award stickers" at their own pace. Each skill set group is comprised of three sequential 24 Games, each building upon prior skills with a range of difficulty (easy, medium, hard).

The skill sets focus on addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, variables, integers, algebra, and exponents. I especially like the Power Jump feature that enables proficient students to advance quickly to an appropriate level.

Bonus modules offer skill-building activities and puzzles focused on automaticity, grouping skills, pattern recognition, and critical thinking presented in an engaging and fun format for students.

Workout Gyms provide opportunities to demonstrate mastery of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts. Fractions, decimals, and integers are included.

The Know & Show feature enables the review and practice of skills that will be helpful when students take standardized tests. These problems, offered in nine categories, directly correlate to test content at the 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade levels.

A Card of the Day provides an opportunity to solve a special problem on a daily basis. Students who play every day are eligible for a monthly drawing that awards a special prize to the participant's school.

Electronic award stickers offer motivation and incentives. The students truly enjoy receiving these stickers for content mastery. The bonus games provide opportunities for students to earn countless stickers.

Four types of assessment reports track student progress. Class reports show data with graphs and include time spent on task. School reports provide combined statistics for participating classes in the school. District and school system reports are available to assigned personnel.

A Teacher Home page provides access to each team's sticker count, the top five players, and the average number of stickers earned per student. Links allow the teacher to Edit/Add/Delete Students and view Skill Set, Gym, and Know & Show completion data. Additional links provide access to the FIM (First In MATH) Forum and Teacher News and Updates.

Classroom Applications

My second and third grade students have been using the cards in the 24 Game for the past five years. The benefits were immediately visible; the students quickly embraced the challenges presented to them.

I discovered the online program this year and, once parent permission was secured, gave each child an individual subscription. Every student received a colorful membership card with a user name and password. Since these codes are randomly assigned, no personal or individually identifiable information about students is entered on the Web site. The students clearly prefer the online program much more than the spiral notebooks I used previously.

In the classroom, teachers can organize a variety of efforts to recognize students who earn stickers. Ideas are included on the Teacher page, including incentives for online purchase such as key chains, pencils, hats, magnets, and medals. Achievement award certificates are provided at no charge with each purchased Classroom Kit.

Competitions can be organized within the classroom or school. The teacher and school reports list rankings for each student participating, in the classroom and in the school.

I organize a classroom tournament once a year, using the tournament guidelines. This is always a highlight of the school year and a great incentive for my students.

A 30-day free trial is available online. The user i.d. is love.  The password is math. Content/Features Rating: A+

Ease of Use: The First in MATH online program is very user-friendly. The site is attractively designed and easy to navigate.

The program includes numerous features that aid the user. A menu bar provides easy access to the program's features. Home, Help, and Directions are available on the top of each page. The Home icon returns the user to the starting page. Help includes questions and answers about every facet of the program in easy to understand language. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: New subscribers receive a telephone training session to learn to work with the program. As part of my subscription, I received a one hour telephone conference call with a company representative and other first-time users across the country. This walk-through of each feature saved hours of exploring the program and provided insight into the best ways to use the product.

Overall, the support is excellent and one of the strongest features of the product. An extensive description of each feature can be reached via the Help/FAQ button at the top of every page. A toll-free telephone consultation is available to subscribers. I quickly reached a person who could answer my questions and provide support. In addition, an email query form is available on the Web site. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: The First in MATH online program offers engaging hands-on material designed to help students achieve and demonstrate the mastery of computational math skills based on national standards. The attractive online format and increasingly complex challenges appeal to young children.

The newly designed Teacher page contains a wealth of information about student progress that makes it easy to determine student needs and report progress to parents. The colorful and easily read graphs help identify the students needing interventions and teacher assistance.

The strongest feature of this program is the company's effort to constantly update and improve the product. Each change contributes greatly to making First in MATH an easy to use, standards-based mathematics productivity tool.

If you work with the 24 Game in your classroom already, it won't be hard to move to this online product. If you have never tried the 24 Game, you must go online and take advantage of the free 30-day trial. This is one of the most innovative, creative, and challenging math tools I have seen in years. Highly recommended!

Reviewer: Sally Finley, Gifted/Technology, Country Hills Elementary School, Coral Springs, FL.

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