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Number DNA™ Pre-Algebra Skill Building Software Review by Jennifer ChandlerNeaton Mathematics
Number DNA™ Pre-Algebra Skill Building Software from Neaton Mathematics is an online math program designed to help students master basic math operations taught before pre-algebra. This program is entirely online, does not require any additional materials, and can be used to supplement your current math curriculum. It is broken down into units covering addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, integer numbers, number games, factorization, fractions, and decimals. Each practice session is called a workout and focuses on a specific math skill. It is designed to take approximately 3-5 minutes to complete each workout.
The student must show mastery in a math skill before the program will allow him/her to proceed to the next unit. The program guides students through the following steps: pretest, additional practice of a specific skill is needed, post-test, and after achieving mastery of the skill, the student begins the next unit. The parent has a separate login to access a dashboard to see the student’s progress. In this dashboard, the parent can see how often a student uses the program, the number of problems attempted and got correct, and the length of time it took to complete a workout. Number DNA offers a range of subscription options billed either monthly or yearly. An individual monthly subscription is $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. The family monthly subscription is $19.99 per month or $159.99 per year. There are also subscription options for classrooms or schools.
This program is written to be used daily for 3-5 minutes for consistent practice. It included modules for number sense, fractions, and decimals. The website states that it is for ages 9 to 99 and can be used by individuals, families, teachers, or schools. The online format makes it a viable option for homeschool families. Once the student is logged in, he/she will be directed to a homepage listing information such as a list of the units, a weekly work summary, total work summary, and links to get started. There is a link to watch a video telling how to navigate the helpful home page. The student begins practice by clicking the blue “Next Workout” button located in the top left-hand corner of the webpage. This will open another page for the first test, which is the Whole Number Addition Mastery Test. It also gives the directions for completing the test and information indicating a passing score and the timeframe needed to move on to the next unit. This first test has 25 problems; the student must complete the test in 6 seconds or less per problem and have a passing score of 90% to proceed to the next unit. If the student passes, he/she will move to the next mastery test, which is the Whole Number Subtraction Mastery Test. If the student does not pass the first mastery test, then he/she will then take a mini-test for the same unit. If the student does not pass the mini test by correctly answering enough problems in 6 seconds or less, then he/she will also need to work through the additional practice workouts. The questions are formatted in three different ways. For example, the student may be asked to give the sum for an addition problem or give one or the other missing addend for the addition problem. Each unit follows the same steps and guides the student through each step. Each unit has a mastery test for the following skills: whole number addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; integer number multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction; number game; and factors. The student must show mastery of a skill before moving to the next unit. This program is useful for all types of learners who are comfortable working on a computer. The layout of the webpages is clean and easy to read; there is no animation with flashing icons or noises that might distract a student. A young student could easily be taught how to navigate this program with help from a parent.
I used Number DNA in conjunction with our current math program. I was curious to see if this program could help my child, who needed some extra help with solidifying basic math facts. When we first started using this program, I would sit with my child to assist her when needed. Since it was difficult for us to consistently login for 3-5 minutes daily, I would have my daughter work for 10-30 minutes at a time when we did work on it. As she became more comfortable using this program, I would let her work through the practice problems without sitting with her. My child has some math anxiety, and I noticed that sometimes she would still count on her fingers to find the answers. This would cause her to take longer to finish a workout. Depending on the day, sometimes knowing that she had to correctly answer 90% of the problems in 6 seconds or less would stress her out more. And other times, she would challenge herself to beat the timeframe to move to the next practice. When I would sit with her, I would note the problems she was missing consistently to later work on. Also, I noticed that the problems she was regularly missing would show up in the practices more often. I also used the program for myself to better understand how to use it. As an adult, I liked that it showed the areas that I needed to brush up on in my math skills, as well as the variety of problems presented. On the other hand, my child did not enjoy using this program mainly because of needing to correctly answer 90% of the problems in a specified timeframe.
Overall, I would recommend this program for students who need extra practice. I think that it is well designed, and I liked the simple layout of the website. It is not complicated to learn how to use, and it gives students an interactive method to practice math skills. I am always looking for other ways to help any of my children learn the basics. It would work great for a visual and kinesthetic learner, but an auditory learner might have trouble meeting the time requirements if he/she is reading each problem out loud. Even though this would take away from a part of the program’s purpose, I would have liked to have an option to either disable the “timer” or have a separate workout where the student could answer a set number of problems without being timed. This would give students another option to work on math facts, via an online program, instead of always resorting to flashcards, rote memorization, or writing math facts out x number of times. I like to have different resources available for my children because they thrive on the variety and do not become stagnant. I plan to use this program with my other children to help them practice their basic math skills.
-Product review by Jennifer Chandler, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2021