GPA LEARN {a review}

Critical Thinking Company Review

Math time is always a struggle in our home with our son, Connor (age 8).  He really has a hard time understanding math concepts, being a very visual and hands on learner, and as a result bulks at any written curriculum. I am always striving to find a way for him to Love Math.

We were very excited to be asked to review GPALOVEMATH, by GPA LEARN.  GPALOVEMATH is a web based math application for kids working at the grade range of Kindergarten to grade 5, created by the company Great Parents Academy (GPA).  We used this program with both Connor (2nd grade) and Emma (Kindergarten). 

Each grade provides math lessons with the help of animated characters, each grade having a different character.  The character helps the student along, through each lesson and each lesson also has it's own set of practice problems followed by a short quiz.  There are over 150 lessons provided for each grade.

When you first sign up you do so under your teacher profile where you can then add your student(s) profile and set up their separate user name(s) and password(s).  The teacher and students both have 4 tabs, within the program, to maneuver between.  Dashboard, Learn, Engage and Motivate.  The teacher account and the student accounts are similar in that they each have the same clean design with 4 tabs to maneuver, Dashboard, Learn, Engage and Motivate.  There are several helpful videos that do a great job of explaining how Learn, Engage and Motivate all work, for both students and teachers.  Additionally, when your student first logs in, the only video they can access is "orientation" which after completion will unlock lessons. 

The Dashboard is where either the student or teacher (depending on who is logged in) can see an overview of all lessons.  Here you will find the total lessons completed and the scoring was earned.  You will also see any pending activity from the engage section, as well as the number of lessons needed to complete to stay on schedule.

The following screen shot, from my teacher profile, shows Connor's dashboard where I can see he has completed 1 lesson out of 3 for the week, he exceeded expectations last week, and he has a reward coming up of 1 quarter.  (this part is blank under the student log-in.)

Lessons are organized into 3 groups (or rows) under the "Learn" tab.   Students have a choice to complete lessons from the green, purple or blue path.  When logged in as the teacher, you are able to "test drive" lessons, should you chose.  The lessons here, under your teacher profile, are organized in the same manner of green, purple or blue but they are titled as:
  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking (green)
  • Counting and Cardinality & Number and Operations in Base Ten  (purple)
  • Measurement and Data & Geometry (blue)
You are able to see your student(s) progress- which lessons they've completed and which are still locked as well as the score they have attained for each lesson.  Here I can immediately see an overview of Connor's hard work.  Whenever I would see a red (one star) mark I would then sit down with Connor and we'd complete a lesson together so I could better see where he was struggling.  This was just my personal choice, as a 1 star is still a pass.  If he would have failed the lesson then it would have to be retaken it was unlocked.

Lessons can be sorted 2 ways, in the student profile.
  • Recommended Order:  This is what the GPA team recommends.  Topics are available to students as they unlock lessons.  Lessons are unlocked progressively, chosen between 1-3 paths (green, purple or teal). 
  • Grade Topics:  lessons are sorted by topics and students can choose based on topics they choose.  Not progressive.
GPALOVEMATH provides a way for students and teacher (parent) to engage within the program.  Student and teacher each have separate log-ins.  This is where students and teachers and approved persons outside the program can communicate with messages, questions or suggestions.  We only briefly used this section as my 2 students are still a bit young for this.  I did send a quick note of encouragement, but I had to point it out to my 8 year old.  He smiled then pecked out a "thank you" reply but that was the end of our "engaging".  This would be a nice feature though, for students that were older and more efficient at typing.

The Motivate section is where you can assign rewards for your child.  With the amount of rewards I chose for Emma to have, she is scheduled to receive about 1 reward for every 9 lessons she completes.  The children are also rewarded points upon completion of a lesson and under their own Motivate tab they can "cash in" their points for rewards of their choice from the rewards store.  When they chose their own reward you are sent a notification in your own profile to approve or deny their request.

Connor and Emma each would complete 3 (or more) lessons a week over the past 6 weeks.  As the kids progressed in their lessons I was always updated via emails when they completed a lesson, and was given a summary of how they did.  I was able to immediately see how long they took with a lesson (or if they skipped it), and how they did on their practice and quiz.  The Kindergarten summary even sometimes gave a nice little extra tip to encourage you to engage your child outside of the application.

In addition, you are given an automated weekly report (a weekly digest) of each student's progress.

The price for this online math program is set per child/student per year, and all grades (K-5) are offered for each student.

There are many different ways you can enjoy this fun web-based math program.  Microsoft Windows, an Apple MAC, Apple iPad and/or Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 tablet.  Acceptable browsers are Google Chrome (which is recommended by GPA), or Apple Safari 6 & 7, MS IE11 and FireFox.

My Thoughts

I really like the clean and simple design.  The application is colorful and inviting, without being overwhelming or distracting in design.

The application is easy and fun to use, especially with the helpful tutorial videos.  Additionally, if you have questions, using the handy "Feedback" link at the bottom, the response is prompt, sincere and helpful.

We used GPALOVEMATH with Microsoft Windows as well as with an iMac and an iPad.  I really like the versatility of this.  We only had one brief problem of loading, which was solved by the helpful advice of using Google Chrome.  Once we set that up on the Apple products we had no further problems.

My kids absolutely love the program.  While I found the voices of the characters to be robotic, they didn't ever seem to mind.  They liked the little mysteries that were put into each lesson.  They especially loved the motivate aspect.  On the topic of voices, I did like that the kids had the option to click on a text to hear their helper character read them the question, which was helpful for Emma since she can not read yet.

Emma is content with just receiving random rewards and when she does she's so excited she tells her daddy as soon as he gets home.  "I earned an extra bedtime story today!!".

The rewards certainly do their job of motivating, but for some kids it can potentially turn into a problem.  With Connor he quickly became addicted to spending his points and completing lessons for the sake of points.  This was solved by just telling him "no more today".   A way to turn off the points (and just leave the random rewards) would maybe be something to consider.

Overall, we really enjoyed this.  Connor certainly doesn't "hate" math any more, which is a huge improvement.  We look forward to continuing on with this for the rest of the year.

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