This post is more personal than analytical to me, in that, this is the first time I’ve written about my daughter, who is 1st grader this year.
I had already written an article about DreamBox Learning K-2 Math and had done quite a bit of research in an effort to compare and contrast subscription educational websites that claim to have fun math games. I was quite impressed by DreamBox Learning, so I asked my wife to take a look at the website. I had a pretty good feel for how she would react, but had no idea as to which points would resonate with her.
What is DreamBox K-2 Math?
DreamBox K-2 Math is a subscription educational service for children in Kindergarten through 2nd grade, that provides a web-based adventure that integrates fun math games in a colorful animated world. Children can choose from thirty-six avatars to represent themselves on screen. They can also choose from four themed environments (dinosaurs, pet, pirates, and pixies), each with eight stories and hundreds of activities.
The things that impressed me were the effectiveness studies, the curriculum, instructional philosophy, and the underlying technology (that makes truly differentiated instruction possible). Since there was significant overlap in the things that stood out for each of us, let me focus on the things my wife actually spoke to as length. She said, elements that struck a chord for her were the Parent Dashboard, the reports (and being able to send them to her Black Berry), and the idea that the continuous assessment keeps the material challenging, but not to the point of being frustrating. When we concluded our conversation I was surprised when my wife asked me to complete the registration. She was impressed enough that the subject had changed, from an academic discussion about the facilities of a nondescript online educational service, to DreamBox Learning K-2 Math specifically… something she wanted to purchase to help our daughter.
The Kid Test
I had no idea as to how our daughter would react to DreamBox, then again I have no idea as to what she will or will not eat from meal to meal.
In her first session she played DreamBox for approximatly 1.5 hour and did not want to stop… she tried to bargain with her mom for more time to complete her current adventure. Her second DreamBox session was very much like the first, approximately 1.5 hours in duration and an expressed desire to continue playing. In her third session my daughter was on her way to completing the 100 frame. I was looking over her shoulder as she actually completed the frame. When she realized what she had accomplished, she jumped out of her seat and did a kind of “End Zone” dance and chanted, “I did it! I did it!”
Back to School
At this point we start back to school preparation, making all our schedules were rather chaotic, so there is no DreamBox session for the next 5 days.
On the evening of the 6th day, my wife received an e-mail message from DreamBox saying, “It’s been 5 days since your daughter has played DreamBox Learning. We thought you might like a reminder, since research suggests she will benefit most from the math lesson games if she plays at least twice a week, for 15 minutes or more each time.” Both my wife and I thought the “tickler” message was great, inasmuch as it’s so easy for schedules to go awry.
We’ve integrated DreamBox into our daughter’s after school routine
Technologically and academically DreamBox was a slam dunk, by the specs, but that in no way meant it would be a success with a persnickety 6 year old. That said, DreamBox K-2 Math was an unqualified success. I can’t even begin to list the linchpin elements that cause DreamBox to appeal to our daughter, but appeal it does.