General questions about the Math Garden
The Math Garden is a training-tracking system where children can practice and learn math by playing games on their own level. Solving the exercises is, therefore, a way to practice, but not necessarily test children. Children can log in anytime and anywhere – be it at school or at home – to play in the Math Garden. So unlike other pupil tracking systems, it does not require fixed sessions with supervised testing. (These tests are often held only once or twice a year.) Math Garden is less supervised, but benefits from the high frequency of practice data, which give a detailed picture of each child’s skill development. Children’s exercises are auomatically analyzed for feedback, so Math Garden also offers teachers and parents insight regarding the strong and weak points of individual pupils, classes as a whole, and it can highlight the specific mistakes that pupils make. The Math Garden is therefore not a mathematical method, but a practice program that you can use along with math techniques to enable each child to practice on his or her own level.
Math Garden’s most important features:
- Playful exercises: Math Garden offers children a challenging web environment where they can practice and learn math in exciting ways.
- Adaptive: Every child automatically receives problems at their own level.
- Tracking: The Garden Center gives detailed information about children’s individual math development and their strong and weak points. Educators can use Math Garden as a frequent student tracking system and test instrument to determine children’s level.
- Online exercises: Math Garden is an online program, so it can be used at school or at home alike. Because it is an exercise program, it can be used together with any teaching method.
- University of Amsterdam (UvA): This web application was developed by the UvA to give detailed account of children’s math development. Since 2009, Math Garden has been the product of Oefenweb.nl, a spin-off company of the UvA.
The games in the Math Garden are adaptive, which means that the level of the exercises adapts to the skills of each child. Since the Math Garden is adaptive, children of the same age can practice different kinds of exercises, without the need for the teacher to adjust the program. This way, it is possible for weak mathematicians to practice on a lower grade level, or for good mathematicians to practice on a higher grade level. The problems are chosen so that each child can complete approximately three-quarters of them. Therefore, it is possible that a child will get a difficult problem or a very easy one, but each child (regardless of their level) will solve 75% of their problems correctly.
Math Garden is appropriate for children who wish to playfully practice math. Math Garden was originally intended for Elementary Schools, but the high level of the math problems and the 20 second response window makes it even challenging for adults. Math Garden is therefore also suited to improve math skills for High School students who still show deficiencies.
As long as children understand how to use the mouse of a computer, they can play in the Math Garden. In practice, this means that Math Garden is suitable for children ages 4 and up.
Children can be motivated to regularly play their exercises in several ways:
- The appearance of their garden is a key motivator. The size of the plants in the garden represents the level of each child, so when plants grow and new plants appear, children know that they are improving. When the garden looks beautiful, they know that they have performed well. But with too little practice, their plants will wither and even disappear, which should motivate children to practice regularly.
- Children receive coins by playing their math games. The scoring rule is designed so that children are rewarded based on effort and good answers regardless of their math skills. Because each child (regardless of their level) will correctly solve 75% of their problems, all children can earn the same amount of coins. The more frequently children play, the more coins they earn. In this way, all children have an equal opportunity to earn coins. Children can exchange their coins for prizes which they can place in their trophy case. If children choose the difficult setting, they earn double the coins for correct answers. Conversely, when children play on the easy setting, they earn half the number of coins.
- The Bonus garden offers an extra incentive for completing exercises in the Base garden. In the Bonus garden, children can choose whichever games to play whenever they wish because plants never whither in this garden and watering cans never appear. Only when all the games in the Base garden have been successfully played, can children access the Bonus Garden. In this way, children are rewarded for working on crucial math skills.
Most of the Math Garden’s games especially train and automatize children’s mental arithmetic skills. The new games have other goals too, with Number task focusing on number comprehension, Slowmix allowing for students who need more time, Flower Code improving logical reasoning, and the percentages in the Fraction+ tasks is a whole new domain. We will soon add a clock-reading game.
Math Garden currently focuses on mental arithmetic. For this math domain, Math Garden includes problems that are required curriculum. We strive to supplement Math Garden with exercises that meet the other domains of the curriculum.
The program is not directly connected to the required curriculum, but it makes it possible for children to achieve the required levels of understanding. Thus, Math Garden gives insight into the expected score for students at their skill level. This shows what skills have not yet been mastered, and how each student compares to his/her peers or to children of different age groups.
Children can at any moment, either at school or at home, log in to play in the Math Garden. So unlike other pupil tracking systems, it does not require fixed sessions with supervised testing. These tests are often held only once or twice a year.
The Math Garden is less supervised, but benefits from the high frequency of practice data, which give a detailed picture of each child’s skill development. The Math Garden also offers teachers and parents insight regarding the strong and weak points of individual pupils, classes as a whole, and it can highlight the specific mistakes that pupils make.
Math Garden is a training program and not a course with instructions. As Math Garden’s method is self-standing, it can be used together with any methods as a tool for training and monitoring the development of children’s arithmetic skills.
Since the December 2010 update (see the below for more information), teachers have the opportunity to indicate which domains they find important for children to practice. With this new function, Math Garden is optimal for use in combination with personal instruction in a specific domain.
- You can use the Math Garden to let your pupils maintain and improve essential math skills.
- You can use the Math Garden as a testing tool to get a frequent (for example, weekly) picture of the skills of your pupils in relation to other children.
- You can use the Math Garden to help set up more individualized teaching. Based on the mistake analysis, you can, for example, see which children are using an incorrect strategy.
- You can use the Math Garden as a motivational tool. Because children can work on their own level and use games to practice their skills, children will find that math can be fun.
- You can use the Math Garden for specific children. Both weak and strong mathematicians are challenged and motivated, since they work on their own level.
- You can put the Math Garden on the weekly task list.
- You can use a checklist where children have to call for the next child when they are done.
- Children can log into the Math Garden at home, as well as at school. It is therefore possible to give children assignments to practice at home.
- You can plan a specific moment of the day or week for the Math Garden.
- The Math Garden is not an instruction program and is an additional tool to mathematical methods. Naturally, you can choose to replace a part of the practicematerial of your method with the Math Garden, such as the digital practice programs.
- It is possible to acquire the Math Garden only for the members of your class which you feel will benefit the most from it.
You can use THIS LETTER to inform your children’s parents about Math Garden and how it uses anonymous data for research that improves education.
Math Garden currently offers the following math games: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Speedmix (uses the four main mathematical operators and requires quick responses), Slowmix (uses the four main mathematical operators but allows slower responses), Fractions+, Counting, Number Series, Balance, Numbers, and Flower Code. We will soon include a clock-reading game.
During each problem, a series of coins appear at the bottom of the screen. For every second that the child has to solve the problem, one coin appears. If the child gives a correct response, then he wins all the coins on-screen, the equivalent of how much time remains. But if the child does not answer in time or clicks the question mark, he/she receives no coins (but also loses none). When the child gives the wrong answer, however, the remaining coins on-screen are subtracted from the number of coins he already has.
These rules discourage children from guessing, because with risky tactics, children can lose more coins than they can gain. Moreover, weak and strong mathematicians alike can earn the same amount of coins because the Math Garden automatically adjusts the level of difficulty to be appropriate for each child. The number of earned coins is therefore a fitting reward for every child’s efforts regardless of their mathematical skills.
If children choose to play easy problems, then each coin is worth half its normal value. When they choose for difficult problems, then coins are worth double.
This is a percentage score ranging from 1 to 10. Having a 10 means that you have mastered all the games in Math Garden (very exceptional). You can convert this number into percentages: a child with a score of 3.52 has mastered 35.2% of Math Garden’s problems. As Math Garden covers the math curriculum throughout Elementary School, students’ scores will not approach a 10 unless they are excellent students in a high grade. This means that a child’s score depends on their age and which group they are in. The real meaning of these scores is then for teachers to see in the Garden Center where they can see how each child scores relative to their peers.
We deliberately made these scores ambiguous for children, who can instead tell how well they are doing based on the size of their plants and by the number of coins rewarding their efforts. A more traditional scoring system might create competition which we wish to avoid.
There are currently 14 different prizes that children can earn in Math Garden. The prizes vary from a ribbon costing 50 coins to a big green pearl, which at 80,000 coins, costs the most.
Not all prizes are visible. Prizes can only be seen once a child has enough coins to buy it.
Children can return their prizes in exchange for coins in order to buy bigger prizes.
The Math Garden is adaptive, which means that the level of the exercises calibrates to the skills of the child. When playing the Math Garden for the first time, the program will need some time to determine the correct level of the child. If a child gives incorrect answers, he/she will automatically be offered easier problems. Does it take too long for the level of the exercises to drop to the level appropriate for your child/pupil? Just give several incorrect answers in a row and the sums will quickly get easier. With our updated Math Garden, your child can also adjust the level of difficulty of their exercises to be easy, moderate, or difficult within their own level. For more information, see the section about our December 2010 update (below).
Math Garden runs entirely over the internet. This has the advantage of not requiring schools to install or maintain the program. All you therefore need to run Math Gardenis a computer with internet access.
In order to use the Math Garden, a computer that is no older than 2 years old is recommended. A minimum screen resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels is required. A screen resolution of 800 x 600 pixels is also an option, but the website will not be optimally rendered.
Your browser must meet the following requirements
- If you are using Internet Explorer, you must use version 6 or higher. For an optimal user experience we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 7 or 8. Other modern browsers like Firefox 3 and Safari 3.2 or higher are supported as well.
- Flash Player version 9.0.115 must be installed.
If you want to make sure that the Math Garden runs properly on your computer before you sign up for an account, you can click here to try the Math Garden in a demo account.
We developed Math Garden as part of the UvA’s research into the development of math skills in children. This research required data from children solving math problems. To collect data, the Psychological Methods department under Professor Han van der Maas decided to develop a computer program where children complete math exercises. And so Math Garden was born.
For the first two years, Math Garden was simply used for research. Due to the strongly positive user responses, the UvA created Oefenweb.nl, a spin-off company, whose goal is to further develop Math Garden and to spread it to more schools.
Math Garden was developed by the UvA’s Psychological Methods department under Professor Han van der Maas’s supervision.
Math Garden has goals on three level, namely at the level of the child, the educator, and the researcher.
Math Garden offers children a challenging web environment where they can practice and learn math in exciting ways. The idea behind Math Garden is derived from a theory of expertise development which sees children learning the most through short, focused exercises that are tailored to their level of expertise (deliberate practice). Children who play Math Garden 20-30 minutes weekly practice crucial skills such as memorizing the basic operations and automating arithmetic skills.
Math Garden removes the need for teacher’s to review work and gives them clear information regarding the strengths and weaknesses of their students. Math Garden’s results analysis offers teachers feedback on both individual students and their class as a whole. This lets them assess their own effectiveness and offers them the tools for crafting more individualized instruction.
For researchers, Math Garden is interesting because of the large number of math exercises that are regularly completed (= high frequency). The UvA uses this anonymous data for scientific research with the goal of making new scientific insights which in turn improve Math Garden and math education.
The University of Amsterdam (UvA) collects Math Garden’s anonymous data for scientific research. We seek scientific insight into measuring scholastic skills, and with the Math Garden, our research aspires to improve education.
Please let us know if your school or family does not wish for the anonymous performance data of your children to be used. We guarantee that by request their information will not be saved.
Oefenweb.nl continues to innovate Math Garden. Thus, the number of math domains will be increased. For example, we will soon add a game for clock-reading. We strive to have a program that can train all children in all the aspects of their curriculum. Another coming innovation is improvements in the instructions given by the error analysis. We also intend for children to view short instructional films based on their performance.
In the longer term, Oefenweb.nl wants Math Garden to be compatable with handheld devices. If each child has their own computer in their drawer, then Math Garden can be even more easily integrated into daily teaching practices.
Obviously, this track-and-train technology is not only useful for math and for children, but also for all domains that require practice. We are therefore also working on a language training equivalent to Math Garden. We hope to launch the first games for a “language garden” towards the beginning of 2011. Among these games are spelling tasks and a word form tasks (e.g. making plurals, writing in past tense).
Questions about subscriptions
A one year subscription to Math Garden costs:
- 20 EURO (aproximately $30) administration fee +
- 2.40 EURO (aproximately $3.50) per child per year (from 1-1-2011)
(All prices include 19% tax)
If your child’s school has quit the Math Garden, your child’s garden will no longer be available. You subscribe your child(ren) to the Math Garden yourself. For more information, refer to the signup page.
Children: ask your teacher or parent if they wish to change your password.
Other users: Click here to request a new password using the e-mail address you used to sign up to Math Garden. You can also customize your user name in the Garden Center. Under the administrator tab, click user. To change your name, click edit.
Questions regarding the updated Math Garden from 12/1/2010
We at Oefenweb.nl launched the updated Math Garden at the beginning of December 2010. This new version features even more math games and offers children, teachers, and parents more possibilities within the program. All previous users have automatically been given access to this new version.
- Flower Code
- Base garden and Bonus garden: In addition to the Base garden, each child has further received the NEW Bonus garden. Children can only play in the Bonus garden if they have successfully practiced all the math games in the Base garden.
- Teachers and parents can determine which games must be practiced. There are two pre-programmed gardens: the Standard Math Garden and the Alternative Math Garden. Administrators can also manually select which games are available in which garden by using the customizable Adjusted Math Garden.
- Children can determine the level of the exercises. While they automatically receive problems at their own level, within that level, children can adjust the difficulty of their problems from easy, to average, and difficult.
The garden was updated to make it more enjoyable for children. Now, children can easily navigate between their gardens, their trophy case, and the help page by using the garden map.
Since the update, children have a Base garden and a Bonus garden. The Bonus garden allows children to choose the games they want to play, but they can only enter the Bonus garden if they have sufficiently completed their exercises in the Base garden. In this way, the Bonus garden is a reward that can motivate children to successfully complete various math games. The Bonus garden offers the additional incentive of our newest game, the Flower Code.
Because Math Garden is adaptive, it automatically calibrates the difficulty of the exercises to each child’s level.In the updated version, children can choose within their own level the difficulty of their exercises, from easy, to average, and difficult.
This option gives children the feeling that they influence how they learn despite the program’s adaptive self-regulation. This makes Math Garden attractive for all children – for those who need a greater challenge and for those who rely on success for their motivation. The level of difficulty can be adjusted in both the Base garden and the Bonus garden.
With the update, we have improved the system which determines the ability score. You can view the ability score in the Math Garden on the signs in front of each plant, and in the Garden Center you can see the ability scores of each child in the results page for every domain.
Because of this improvement, some scores may have changed slightly. After a few play sessions, the ability score will stabilize again.
We changed the Fractions game. The new fractions exercises (Fractions+) combine fractions, percentages, and ratio sums. Fractions+ replaces the old game and better meets the demands of higher level curriculum. To answer the open questions in these exercises, children fill in the graphically displayed calculator.
Because we have so drastically changed the fractions games, we have reset all children’s fraction scores to zero. The program will automatically calculate a new score after children play the game: a minimum of 3 sessions with 15 problems each should suffice to return children’s scores to their previous levels before the update.
Math Garden allows you to choose from 3 different gardens. There are two pre-programmed gardens: the Standard Math Garden and the Alternative Math Garden. We also offer the option to manually configure the garden using the Adjusted Math Garden.
The pre-programmed gardens are fully configured gardens that cannot be altered. The Standard Garden is mainly focused on automating children’s mental arithmetic skills; the Alternative Math Garden is mainly focused on increasing children’s understanding of the relations between numbers. The Adjusted Math Garden on the other hand is not fixed and allows administrators to personally choose which games are available.
Unlike in the Adjusted Math Garden, the games in the pre-programmed gardens are dependent on each other. This means that some math games only become available after a child meets the requirements by successfully completing exercises at a lower domain. This works the same way as what previous users are used to. But in the Adjusted Garden, the games are not dependent on the plants that you have placed in the garden – children can simply play them all.
Children must maintain their garden by playing regularly because otherwise, their plants will wither and a watering can will appear. The update did not change how the watering cans work. Watering cans cannot appear in the Bonus Garden.
Problems with the Math Garden
Possibly, because the Math Garden is constantly evolving. You may be experiencing problems because you don’t have the newest version of Math Garden in your browser. Try clearing your cache. Click here to read how to do this in your browser.
When the Math Garden subscription of a school or family is no longer active, it is no longer possible for users of this school/family to log in. If it concerns a school, the school logo will no longer be visible on the login page. If a subscription has become inactive, there are several possible causes:
- The subscription has been canceled.
- The payment of the subscription has not been received yet.
Ask the administrator of your subscription for the specific reason.
Plants disappear for one of two reasons.
1. The scores in the lower domains are not high enough. The math domains in the Math Garden only become available if the math levels of the lower domains are high enough. This also means that a plant can disappear again if the score on a lower domain has decreased. For example, the multiplication plant will disappear if your child/pupil scores lower than 2.5 in subtraction. This way, children will be motivated to keep their skills on the lower domains up to date as well.
2. Your child doesn’t play regularly enough on the lower domains. To motivate children to keep practicing all domains, including the lower domains of addition and subtraction, some plants will disappear if the child doesn’t practice the lower domains. As soon as your child has finished another 15 problems on each of the lower domains, the other plants will become visible again.
You can simply print the results page. Then you will get an overview with symbols instead of colours. It is not possible to print the results page with colour.
The games in the Math Garden are adaptive, which means that the level of the sums adapts to the skills of the child. Since the Math Garden is adaptive, children of the same age will practice with different kinds of problems, without the need for the teacher to adjust the program. This way, it is possible for weak mathematicians to practice on a lower grade level or for good mathematicians to practice on a higher grade level. The problems are chosen in such a way that each child can complete approximately three-quarters of the sums. It can therefore occur that a child will get a difficult problem or a very easy one, but each child (regardless of their level) will solve 75% of the sums correctly.
If games are only partly visible on the screen it is possible that the screen resolution is set too low. The Math Garden works optimally with a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels or higher. Try adjusting the screen resolution in the configuration menu of your computer.
Children: ask your teacher or parents what your password is. Other users: Click here to request a new password by entering your user name or the email address with which you are known at the Math Garden.
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