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Kids often have difficulty conceptualizing fractions. What makes perfect sense when viewed in the real-world (6 of 12 pieces of pizza is equal to 1/2 of the pizza), suddenly loses meaning when expressed in numeric form (reduce 6/12). For this reason, students are more likely to understand the subject when it is presented in concrete, interactive ways. Nothiní but. . .the Fractions I attempts to teach fractions using interactive tutorials, practice problems and drills, all the while providing the valuable feedback such learning requires.
Although the topics can be selected in any sequence, a logical path for a new student of fractions would begin with the Tutorials. Each tutorial begins with a semi-animated introduction presented by one of the program's characters. A clear explanation is supported by easy-to-understand diagrams and tips, a step-by-step summary, and a series of example problems. Our 4th grade math student tester was able to follow the explanations and understand what was presented.
After the tutorial, the student can move on to the Practice problem section. These are interactive worksheets that require the user to solve the problems, step-by-step, following the procedures introduced in the tutorial section. Correct answers are rewarded with a "Good job, [your name here]!" and a variety of "oohs" and "ahhs." Incorrect answers produce a "Sorry. The correct answer is shown above."
Finally, a drill section provides timed problem-solving challenges. When a threshold percentage of correct answers is submitted, a printable award certificate appears.
The teacher/parent/user can customize the program by specifying the number of problems for each drill activity, the passing grade required for each, the time allowed for each drill, and if an onscreen timer is to be displayed.
A daily report is available for each program user, detailing activity. Program administrators can preview or print a chart listing the number of problems attempted in each program section, and the number and percent of correct answers.
The programís characters, however, were not well-received, especially by older students who found them somewhat juvenile. "Is this supposed to be a joke?" was one childís immediate response, while another commented, "It sounds like someone is holding their nose to make different sounding voices." A younger (8 year-old) tester, however, had no such adverse response.
The program features a clear, easy-to-follow interface. Some users, however, reported that they were frustrated by the program's general requirement that the user navigate between the answer form boxes using the tab button, rather than the mouse.
PC: Windows 3.1/95/98, 486/66 MHz (100 MHz Pentium recommended) or faster, 37 MB (Lite - 12 MB), 8 MB RAM (16 MB recommended), 256 color 640x480 display, CD-ROM drive. 100% Microsoft-compatible sound cardreturn to top of page
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