Academic Review Websites
They are out there…EVERYWHERE vying for our attention. Claims of mastery or proficiency abound with promises that really are too good to be true. All of these sites have one major problem in common, however, and that is TIME! Who has time in their school day to spend the amounts of time they “recommend” or “suggest” to master a topic?
Not our school…
Not most schools!
That being said, however, I do want to share a site that was shared with me: iknowit! As an administrator, I am bombarded with requests for sites to review and decipher. When I was asked to look at iknowit.com, I will admit, I was a bit hesitant. After all, we already have several expensive web-based programs that we are using, and I didn’t really feel that we had a need for more.
This is a thought process that I go through often. I often find myself questioning the value of software programs in schools. Are we overdoing technology with a generation of students who have an enormous diet of technology outside of school? This wasn’t the case 10 years ago! I fear that it isn’t as effective as it once was due to the sheer volume of media that bombards a student’s life daily.
My view about technology in my school is it needs to be very selectively used. Our student population is generally tech savvy and well versed in social media. So, how does iknowit.com fit into this view?
Why? Because it is flexible and easy to use.
What you get with www.iknowit.com
So, when I first clicked over, I was met with a simple interface. It seemed almost too good to be true. There is currently no log-in as the site is free for the time being. All I had to do was choose a grade level (the site is being built for grades K-5) and click on “More First Grade Exercises” to see the lessons that are currently available. New lessons are being added regularly so the content will continue to grow.
I also discovered that if I hover the cursor over the topic, a sample problem pops up in a new window making it easy to preview the problem type. So far I was loving the easy to use interface. I click on an activity and played for a few minutes. The program gives you 15 problems to solve in a “set”. When I first started to play around with the site, the animations that are triggered based on my response were fun. But they soon began to wear on me. They took a while to “do their thang” and you had to wait to do the next problem until it was over. I became annoyed. I emailed the site owner and shared my concern.
Responsiveness to Concerns and Questions:
Do you know what happened?
HOLY MOLEY! He had the programmers change it. Before you could choose from three “mascots” or “friends” to cheer you on. NOW you can TURN THEM OFF! SCORE! Many kids will like the animations, but some will not want to have to wait for them to finish to go to the next problem.
I love that the problems are very easy to see and read. Another bonus is that students can have the program READ the problem to them. This was a significant addition to the program in my mind. We have so many students who struggle to read that they miss out on the math portion.
Below is a collection of shots to give you and idea of that you can expect when you visit. I was thoroughly impressed with the detail that was put into the explanation pages when a student misses and problem.
This is a great example screen (above) of the type of help that the student will get if he/she misses a problem.
Is there a reporting feature?
Well, this was one of my very first thoughts as I looked at the site. I have become very frustrated with the lack of reporting many of review sites our school is currently using. What good is a program designed to help teach and remediate if you can not access any reports?
This was a direct question I asked Tim Weibel, the mastermind behind the site. He was quick to respond with a resounding YES! There will be reporting. Now, when there is reporting, there is usually the arduous task of creating student accounts, logins, pulling reports, blah…blah…blah… (See how fickle we are in the world of education? We want minimal work to create accounts and get kids logged in, but, we want excellent reporting…not demanding at all…haha).
Tim sent me the preview pictures below and I can’t wait for reporting to be rolled out. This will be part of the paid version, but, if the value is anything like www.SuperTeacherWorkSheets.com (which Tim also owns and operates), then BRING IT!
Can I assign lessons to students?
When Tim told me I could assign lessons (or my teachers, rather) I was over the moon happy! This has been our biggest complaint with some of our expensive academic review sites we currently use. So, while I haven’t actually had access to these features, the dialogue alone with Tim has made me a bit giddy to get my hands on them when they are released later this year. AND…for those states that need CORE ALIGNED practice and learning, GUESS WHAT???? YAY- It will be aligned as well. And, if you don’t need Core Aligned, then it won’t matter- you still can look by topic to get your students to practice those target concepts.
Also, something that I absolutely love, is currently I can have my students who are mastering concepts working on higher grade levels and my students who need remediation working at a lower grade level on similar topics for additional practice.
So, now what?
So, I guess the only thing left to do is to get practicing. As an administrator, I don’t mandate many things in my building. After all, I work with professionals and they know what is best in their unique situations and for their students. So, while I won’t require the use of this FREE site, I will be sharing and encouraging them to use it, especially with those students who are in need of remediation of math concepts.
Click on over and check it out for yourself! www.iknowit.com
John, Created by MrHughes
*Please Note: In exchange for an honest review, our company did receive compensation. That compensation was used in full to support a local elementary school.