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By Susan W. Hixson - Posted Jul 1, 2007
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Overall Rating:5 Stars
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: Discovery Education, in partnership with Digital Directions International, Inc., One Discovery Place, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Phone: (800) 323-9084; Internet: or  

Price: A variety of pricing options is available, based on selected configurations. A single school license for unlimited users is priced at $5,500 per year. Pricing for small schools is offered. Multiyear and multiseries discounts are available. You can find a free 30-day trial online.

Audience: Middle school.

Format: Internet-based interactive curriculum.

Minimum System Requirements: A computer with Internet access. This program runs best with a high-speed Internet connection and current browser. A current version of the free Adobe Flash Player is needed.

Description: HELP Math makes the language of mathematics accessible to Spanish-speaking students who are learning English. Interactive lessons, pictorial examples, a game format, and quizzes help explain difficult math concepts. Teachers can access student progress, test scores, and time spent on lessons. The program is accessible from any location with a username and password; it can be used as homework or a supplemental activity.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: HELP Math requires no installation. Teachers use a password to set up the program for their classrooms. Installation/Access Rating: A

Content/Features: HELP Math, designed to assist Spanish-speaking students, focuses on the vocabulary that explains and directs math skills and course content. Extensive lessons take students through the thought process of math skills. All of the lessons are based on National Council of Teachers of Mathematics principles and standards for grades 6–8.

Developed through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, HELP Math incorporates specific techniques of sheltered-instruction math—visuals, repetition, synchronicity, and building on prior knowledge—to make math content and instruction more easily understood by English-language learners. The lessons can be adapted to the requirements of any state standards.

Teachers log in with a password, enter the names of students, and select the appropriate lessons for their classes. Reports are easily available to show student progress and the amount of time students spend with the program.

Instructions can be presented in English or Spanish. The lessons are interactive; clear speaking voices guide students through the concepts.

Each of the 48 interactive lessons include six sections—vocabulary with pictorial examples and audio reinforcement in English and Spanish, vocabulary instruction taught interactively in the context of a math lesson, standardized assessment math questions used to check for understanding before a final quiz, a real-world scenario or game, test-taking skills, and a final quiz.

The lessons include extensive and repetitive vocabulary work to build meanings and understandings. This material could be helpful for both English and non-English speaking students.

As the lessons progress, they are interspersed with multiple-choice questions. A correct answer leads to more material; a wrong selection will trigger a repeat of the correct information.

Students apply new skills by working on story problems, such as figuring out the height of a building or the area of a park. Questions during the lesson make sure the student is learning the basics needed to continue. The lesson screen includes buttons for a site map, key terms, a calculator, and a button to continue the lesson. The student controls the pace of the lesson and decides when it is time to take a test or to go to a game for practice. The sound can be turned off or on. Students can choose to print a final test or to start a lesson again. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: The HELP Math screens are easy to read, with buttons to lead the user to additional information. At the bottom of the lesson page, a Map button lets students select the activity they are ready to explore. A tutorial that can be set for Spanish or English leads the user through the login, tools, lesson selection, program navigation, final quiz, and other special instructions. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: A subscription to HELP Math includes unlimited technical support and free content upgrades each year. A teacher resource guide is provided; online training can be arranged. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: HELP Math is an Internet-based program that provides a significant supplementary curriculum for use in the classroom.

The lessons include structured and clearly presented concepts necessary to progress in the field of math. Although the lessons are lengthy, they include vital information that could benefit all students.

Most schools do some pretesting
or have the results of state tests from a previous year. This program could be used to help struggling students by targeting specific concepts for review.

I would encourage educators to look at this program to enhance the math knowledge of all students, not just those with language learning challenges. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Susan W. Hixson, Integrating the Internet, Educational Consultant.

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