## Wednesday, June 22, 2016

### LearnBop (Schoohouse Review)

As we are finishing up our school year, I needed something to give Emily just a bit more practice in Algebra 2 because I want her to be very solid in the subject before she goes on to pre-calculus next year. LearnBop provided me with a subscription for review that came at just the right time! The program was already available for classroom teachers, but LearnBop for Families is brand new, though. We reviewed the single student plan, but a family plan is also available.

LearnBop is an adaptive online math program for third grade math through Algebra 2 that is designed for helping students catch up in math, work ahead at their own pace, or to fill in gaps in knowledge. It is Common Core aligned and each concept is tied to a specific Common Core standard.

Getting started with LearnBop is quite easy. From the parent account, you must choose a “roadmap” for your student. Roadmaps options include grade levels (Grade 3 through algebra 2) and subjects (measurement and data, functions, statistics and probability, etc.). When the student logs on from her account, she will do a “warm-up” exercise, which is a pre-test of about 10 questions for each unit. If any weaknesses are found, the student will need to complete some “building block” exercises before beginning the unit.

A nice feature of  LearnBop is that the parent can also set up a roadmap for herself. I did so, and have been working through Algebra 2 myself. I found this very helpful in assessing just how the program works.

The Algebra 2 Roadmap is divided into 5 units. Each unit is subdivided into multiple concepts. Within each concepts are several short teaching videos and problems (called “bops) to solve. The videos often included a “Common Misunderstanding” example, that demonstrated common errors and how to avoid them. I thought this was very helpful!

To achieve mastery of a concept, the student must receive a score of 90% or higher and complete at least 5 bops. I found that if I didn’t make any errors on the first 5 bops, I could master a concept in only 10-15 minutes. With such a high level of success, the program was quite fun, almost like a game. I found myself saying, “I’ll just keep going and do one more concept before I log off.”

Each bop has an option to ask for hints. The hint feature takes the user step by step through the problem. If the user completes all the steps, he receives credit for the bop. I really liked that aspect—it encourages the student to ask for help rather than guessing.

When bops are answered incorrectly, the user is also required to go step by step through a teaching sequence that will hopefully show him where he went wrong.

The user sees a progress chart after each bop that shows his progress.

There were aspects of LearnBop for Families that I loved. The teaching steps were very helpful. The progress charts were motivating. If the user has mastered a concept, he is not required to spend a lot of time on it to demonstrate mastery. The Warm Up tests identify concepts from earlier levels of math that the student may need to work on before completing the grade-level material.

Emily thought that the videos were very good—she said that the teachers “didn’t have boring voices” and that they explained things well. She also liked the way the program would walk her step-by-step through a problem after she missed it. She was also more enthusiastic about using LearnBop after she discovered that it would work on her Kindle Fire in addition to her (slow) computer.

We did experience a few frustrating issues with Learnbop. The answers to several questions were incorrect. Working through the required step-by-step help section might or might not register and give credit for the correct response. In one concept, after I had correctly answered 2 of the 5 bops, the program hopped me to a completely different concept, so there was no way to actually complete the first concept. If I hadn’t worked through the program myself, Emily might not have realized that the program’s answers were sometimes in error instead of her.  I feel like Learnbop needs to do more error checking of their software. Once these glitches are corrected, it will truly be an effective and fun way to practice math.

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