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MathAmigo 4

By Sally Finley - Posted Sep 1, 2006
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Overall Rating:4 Stars
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: Valiant USA, P.O. Box 639, Forest Park, IL 60130; Phone: 888/366-6628; Internet:

Price: $99—single user. $495—10 users. $995—20 users. $1,495—30 users. $1,995—unlimited use.

Audience: K-8.

Format: Text, audio, graphics.

Minimum System Requirements: Pentium Processor 166 MHz (600 MHz recommended), 32 MB RAM (128 MB RAM recommended), 35 MB free hard disk space (50 MB recommended), Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP.

Description: MathAmigo is a standards-based math software program that provides individualized drill and practice with feedback on student progress through hints, encouragements, and tutorials. A management system tracks progress and allows the teacher to print reports.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: Installation is simple and quick, requiring a restart of the computer when the process is completed. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: MathAmigo offers a variety of math activities for students that reinforce concepts—from counting to pre-algebra—through problem-solving questioning and games, all supported by National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) math standards for grades K-8. Students receive immediate reinforcement and a reward system for encouragement.

MathAmigo consists of MathAmigo Manager, used to administer the lessons, and Math Activity software. The program's Home page features tabs allowing access to the seven areas of program navigation. Support is available on every screen by clicking on Help, on a Video button for more detailed instruction, or on an Info button.

The File tab permits the installation of the Activity Machine and Manager Access. Online upgrades can be accessed here. Software is available for pocket PCs and handheld devices.

The Data Transfer feature assists the teacher in creating a data transfer file for each child. These files contain student names and personalized activities. Students use this tab to collect and turn in graded work. Here, teachers can view specific information for each math activity to select appropriate activities for their students.

The Assessment feature provides a variety of reports for classes as well as individuals, both formative and summative. Simple color patterns help identify strengths and weaknesses. Teachers can create individual certificates for students.

The Planning tab links personalized activities to teaching plans correlated to NCTM standards, in addition to the standards supported in textbooks published by Prentice Hall and McGraw Hill.

Teachers can access descriptions of each activity to decide which is appropriate in meeting individual student needs. The NCTM standards determine content. State standards are provided for New Jersey, Texas, and Washington.

The Activities tab contains information on each activity and provides instructions on how to use the Activity Machine. All of the activities operate in the same manner. Most can be done without reading instructions; reading skills are not essential for success in using the program.

The Student tab provides class and student information lists and allows student information to be imported from compatible programs.

Getting Started allows the teacher to edit the classroom structure, enter student data, assign students to a class, and choose a teaching plan.

The activities are organized in stages: The maximum is 15, the average is 5. The stages often refer to the level of difficulty, but can also mean a different approach to the same mathematical idea.

The program offers five set-ups: Easy, Standard, Standard (timed), Hard, and Hard (timed). An Alert lets teachers know when students need help. The Alert can appear as an onscreen message telling the student to see the teacher or as a symbol that shows the teacher where help is needed.

Feedback is always provided. The feedback messages can be edited; the number of tries before reaching a correct answer can be modified. In some cases, a tutorial is presented in place of feedback.

I especially like the certificate feature that provides the teacher with easy and quick access to a variety of designs for award creation limited only by the teacher's imagination. Certificates can be awarded for creative thinking, good effort, and persistence, as well as math excellence. Colorful graphics add an artistic flair to the final design.

Classroom Applications:

MathAmigo can be used in a whole class setting where each student spends time each day completing activities based on individual strengths and weaknesses. The program can also provide small group instruction for students with specific needs.

This program could be used in a summer camp to provide reinforcement activities and support math concepts learned during the school year. In addition, the program's personalized learning activities could be used in a tutorial setting. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: It is easy to navigate through the program with a simple click on a desired button. The Home screen provides access to available resources. Three help options are available to the user. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: The Help features are indicated by a pop-up window, a video camera icon, or an "I" icon that users can click at any time for immediate assistance. Reference materials, answers to frequently asked questions, and free demos are available online. Web conference training is available free of charge. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: The strength of this program lies with its management system. With a minimum of effort, the teacher can see the progress of each student at a glance. Reports can be generated at any time to be used for monitoring student needs or to be sent home to parents as growth indicators. The use of color in the assessment feature makes it very easy to gauge student successes or failures.

This versatile product can be used with a conventional desktop PC, as well as with handheld, laptop, and tablet computing devices. A large amount of supplemental materials permit the teacher to use what works best.

The Activity Machine automatically adjusts questions to meet different student needs. Student responses are immediately analyzed and accompanied by instant feedback, all supported by tutorials that develop concepts and methods.

On average, the program provides 130 activities with four or five stages per grade. Questions are generated randomly by the computer; teachers can select specific activities based on provided descriptions.

MathAmigo supports the way a teacher works by providing standards-based practice and application of skills through the use of technology. If you are looking for a quick and simple way to monitor student progress of standards, this program will definitely meet your needs. Highly recommended.

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

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