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Maths Accelerator |
by Matthew Leitch, 9 October 2006 (extended 31 October 2007)
If you already know Maths Accelerator and just want to get on, here's a link to:
If you are new to Maths Accelerator and want to know how to use it for best results then read on.
Maths Accelerator is a simple way to practice mental arithmetic and is suitable for people between about 5 and 11 years old. You click on buttons to give your answers instead of writing by hand. You could find you can do as many questions in 10 minutes with Maths Accelerator as you do in a week of school. With that much practice you get faster!
There are lots of different types of question. You choose what to work on. With practice you will get faster, make fewer mistakes, and even begin to find the questions easy.
Like a computer game, Maths Accelerator gives you lots of information on how you are doing and where you have made progress.
Maths Accelerator does not offer all the types of maths question you do at school. It just does basic calculation. But, remember, if you can do the calculations with ease the rest is much easier to understand and to do.
Maths Accelerator is often improved and if you need a type of question it doesn't offer why not write and tell me at matthew@learningideas.me.uk.
In each session try several different question levels. Mix easy ones with tougher ones so that you stay relaxed but also challenge yourself.
On easy question levels aim to go faster, and faster, and then faster still.
Of course, if a question level matches something you have been set as homework or expect in a test soon then do lots on that level.
Fun and games are great but we all get a boost when we can see that we have done a lot and we are getting better.
Maths Accelerator uses computer game techniques to show you your progress:
As you go through a set of questions you can see which question of the set you are on and how many you have done so far in the session.
When you finish a set you can see:
how many points you have earned so far in the session, including extras;
what questions you answered in the set, how long each one took, and how many errors you made on each;
your average time per question in the set; and
the detailed information in the form of a database table that you can copy and paste into a spreadsheet for really scientific analysis.
When you click on the Session Summary button you can see:
a list of the question sets you have done so far this session with details of time taken and questions done;
your total work time so far in the session;
points earned, including extras; and
the detailed information in the form of a database table that you can copy and paste into a spreadsheet for analysis.
If you create and activate a personal profile for yourself Maths Accelerator gives you lots more. When you finish a set of questions it also shows you:
when you have achieved a higher skill level for a particular question level (see below for a full explanation of how this works); and
how many extra points you got for achieving Level Ups.
If you create and activate a personal profile for yourself you can click on the Show Profile button and see:
the number of points (aka Treat Points) you have earned;
the number of points you have spent (see below for explanation);
the number of points you have left;
all the question levels where you have recorded performance;
the skill level you have reached on each;
the number of 'consecutives' you have achieved towards the next skill level on that type of question;
information about how fast and accurate you need to be to get to the next level; and
your total skill score.
If you do a set of at least 10 questions while your personal profile is activated then your skill level will be recorded or revised.
To earn a skill level you need to do the questions faster than the skill level's speed (shown on Show Profile) on average and make no more mistakes than the percentage allowed (see on Show Profile). You have to do this three times in a row. Each time you do it you get a 'consecutive' on your profile.
However, there is also a quick way to get skill levels, which is to beat the required level by a lot. If you make no mistakes and do the questions on average more than 20% faster than the target for the next level than Maths Accelerator will give you a Leap Up to the appropriate level.
A Leap Up can take you from nowhere to a very high level and gives you all the extra points you would have earned doing it step by step.
Maths Accelerator knows that drilling number facts is sometimes boring so it gives you little rewards.
Whenever you do a question while your profile is Activated you will get points added to your profile. When you get a Level Up or Leap Up you will get extra points added too.
When you Show Profile you can see your points and click the Spend Points button. Here's how that works. Suppose someone promises you a treat, like a trip to the cinema, if you get a certain number of Treat Points, such as 1,000. When you have earned the points go in with the other person watching and 'spend' those points by typing in 1000 in the box and confirming. Your points left total will drop by 1,000 and you go to the cinema. Simple.
There are also benefits from improving your overall skill level. On the Show Profile screen there are buttons to choose music and choose a background colour. The higher your skill level the larger the choice of music and colours.
Finally, when you finish a set of questions you will hear the sound of a crowd clapping and cheering wildly.
On the first screen you will see a number called the random seed. Usually it is best to ignore this.
However, if you want to do a level again and get exactly the same questions as on a previous occasion, then you can do it by entering the same seed number that was visible the first time.
These random numbers are used to generate the questions afresh every time. That's why Maths Accelerator does not need a big database of questions.
If you are learning about computer programming why not have a look at the code of Maths Accelerator. On your browser click View, Source then scroll down to enjoy hundreds of lines of Javascript.
The screen display is updated by using Javascript to rewrite the HTML of the page, which your browser then displays instantly and automatically each time. This is called Dynamic HTML (DHTML).
The user's personal profile is stored using cookies on the user's computer. These last for one year.
Waste no more time. Click here to start Maths Accelerator:
About the author: Matthew Leitch has been studying the applied psychology of learning and memory since about 1979 and holds a BSc in psychology from University College London. He has three children at school.
Contact the author at: matthew@learningideas.me.uk
Words © 2006, 2007 Matthew Leitch
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