Saturday, January 2, 2016

An Update on DreamBox

I've now watched about a month more of my son's play with DreamBox. So this constitutes an update to my prev. post:

New Interface

I had wondered previously what happened after all the stories in an area were finished. Did they become replaced with a new set? Clearly there weren't enough to last through the 8th grade, nor did they look appropriate for older children. I just found out the answer. Somewhere past the beginning of 3rd grade, you switch environments to the intermediate one.

In this environment, the lessons are now named and the pathway is made more clear to the student. There are no more stories and cartoon characters but the lessons remain the same. Unfortunately, the naming convention is a bit limited. On first glance, my son had 4 different cards with the same lesson name and no way to distinguish between them. 


  • The interface remains compelling. Its surprising how far badges etc. go as motivation.
  • The manipulatives used in the various lessons are very self explanatory. There's very little second guessing what the game interface wanted you to do.
  • I like the emphasis on various techniques like number bonds, landmark numbers etc.


  • The lessons were not very adaptive. There was way to much work on comparison tests i.e. is 123 > 132. Supposedly the intermediate level will start using pre-tests which may help here.
  • Some of the multiplication activities are too open ended. Asking for a multiplication fact for a given product doesn't mean a student will be guided to think about all the different combinations. A devious one (like my son) might just pick 1 times X = X every time for example. This required me to intervene and say lets find a different product that equals the same value.
  • I also found the practice multiplication facts to be a bit too randomized. There was no systematic introduction to families of multiples. In our case, coverage for multiples of 8 seemed light and I supplemented along the way where I found his knowledge thin. I'd like to see this track particular facts more carefully. 

Generally speaking I learned lots of things watching my son work his way through this material that I'm not sure the system picked up on.  This makes a reasonable approach for this part of basic arithmetic but don't treat it as completely hands off. Spend time watching how your child  and realizing where you need to supply feedback and extra practice / explanation. 

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