I wrote earlier about how most online ‘maths’ games are very poor as games or even worse in terms of mathematical content. Happily, I’ve found another website, this time with a specific numeracy focus (making it a little less challenging and subject-specific than MangaHigh, and so a happy complement) – Sumdog.
The content is free and it is free to enlist your classes* and create competitions and challenges. It has a nice kids’-cartoon-meets-graffiti look and pupils can chart their progress with topics by whitewashing blocks on a spray-painted wall.
The main focuses (foci?) are addition and multiplication tables, although there are also challenges for negative numbers, subtraction, division and grouping (e.g. adding in lots of 25). Students can practise each through a range of games (e.g. practising their 7 times tables with an alien shooting game, a robot racing game, or a litter-picking game (!)), giving a bit of variety to otherwise monotonous drills.
I only just found it but was excited by the possibilities, either as a ‘last 5 minutes of class’ treat or as an additional homework task (or just for keen beans who want to do some numeracy work).
I’ll update soon with pictures and reports on how it’s been received by my discerning pupils.
[UPDATE: Y7 set 2 were extremely keen on it and really enjoyed that they could play against each other in challenges.]
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*NB: I wrote to SumDog to enquire about the protection of pupils’ data, with the following response:
“Pupil information is securely stored on our server and can only be seen by us and other teachers at your school. Normally, we would only record a student’s name and activity on the site. Other users on the website will be able to see the student’s first name and last initial (we automatically abbreviate this), their avatar, and the name of their school. We do not allow free chat or anything of that nature, and there is no way for another user outside of the school to find out any further information about this student. The most they could do, essentially, is answer maths questions together!”
My own investigations confirm this to be case, so I am satisfied that it’s completely safe for pupils to use in school and at home.