Moving to a new school can be problematic at any age, but it can be especially challenging for preteens. When her father became ill, Catherine was forced to move from Florida to Delaware to care for him. Seven-year-old George and twelve-year-old Zoey came with her. The move was difficult, almost from the beginning. Both children experienced bullying, and the continuous drama at Zoey’s new school became unbearable for her. Catherine also discovered that there were significant differences in the math curriculum offered in both states, and her children were behind their peers by Delaware standards.
Catherine reluctantly decided to homeschool both children. “At least it was something we could do together,” she says. George was initially quick with his math but was also easily bored. Mom tried her best to supplement learning with games involving cards, dice, and coins.
However, math terrified Zoey. Catherine would have to sit with her continually and explain every detail for solving a problem. She would also try having Zoey draw pictures to help her visualize the problem. Still, she felt that Zoey wasn’t getting it and was in danger of falling even further behind. “Sometimes, she is so insecure and feels as though the work she does is not good enough,” says Catherine, “I worry about her.”
2.) Finding Elephant Learning
Catherine found Elephant Learning and hoped the program could “help the kids get excited about math.” She also hoped that the program’s gamification would prevent George from becoming bored and would both alleviate Zoey’s anxiety about math and provide her with the success that could encourage her to keep trying.
Catherine’s gamble worked. The games in Elephant Learning immediately engaged both Zoey and George in math homework. Better yet, both children immediately found success with the program. George is now performing at a math age that is beyond most of his peers, and Zoey is quickly catching up. In just six months, George gained 2.5 Elephant Years in math, while Zoey gained 1.8 years!
4.) George’s Results:
Age: 7.6 years
Starting Elephant Learning Age: 5.3 years
Current Elephant Learning Age: 7.8 years
The difference after six months: 2.5 years!
Age: 12.4 years
Starting Elephant Learning Age: 6.3 years
Current Elephant Learning Age: 8.1 years
The difference after six months: 1.8 years!
“We decided to do homeschooling. but it hasn’t been easy. I hope your program can get my children excited about math.” – Mom, Catherine
A multitude of learning difficulties and a preference for hands-on learning can make learning a challenge. Combine that with extra challenges or a need for additional help, and you can understand William and Courtney’s dilemma. Their mom, Maria, found the perfect solution with Elephant Learning.
Maria and her husband moved to improve the family’s living conditions and provide more opportunities for their two children. Although they knew this was the right thing to do for their family, it also meant that money was much tighter than it had been. Maria was devastated to think that this might mean her daughter would have to give up the extra help she had been receiving in math through Elephant Learning.
Sixteen-year-old Courtney struggled with autism, anxiety, sensory processing disorder, and ADHD. “Courtney is a happy girl who is a joy to be around,” says Maria, “but she has issues with math and has always struggled.” At twelve years old, Will also had ADHD, OCD, and a sensory processing disorder, but unlike Courtney, he excelled at math and enjoyed it. Still, Will needed to be challenged. Both children, says their mom, are visual and kinesthetic learners, so extra worksheets or other traditional approaches were not going to help.
2.) Finding Elephant Learning
Maria found Elephant Learning while searching for an app that could help her daughter catch up to her peers in math. She also hoped the app could supplement her son’s school math program. While the family was struggling financially, they applied to Math Matters. The scholarship they received allowed both children to continue with the program.
3.) Will and Courtney’s Experience With Elephant Learning
With Elephant Learning, Courtney received the extra help she needed to understand mathematics, and Will found the challenge he required. For a girl who loves both technology and animals, Elephant Learning was the perfect fit for Courtney. The animal avatars and the gamification engaged her. She was hooked. In just six months, Courtney gained over two years’ worth of math and is well on her way to catching up to her peers. Will gained almost four years’ in the same period. With the help of the Math Matters scholarship, the siblings are continuing to improve.
Gifted children can present unique challenges. Without the right approach, they can become bored and are in as much danger of falling behind as their peers who struggle. This was the challenge faced by Kaden and his mom, Heather.
Differentiated instruction and assessment is a way that teachers can successfully reach all students in their classrooms and ensure they are successful. It is a critical approach for all students but an essential one for gifted students who are particularly at risk of becoming bored and tuning out.
Eight-year-old Kaden had been admitted to the Galactic (Leap) program due to his high IQ. However, in his current classroom, he was falling further and further behind, especially in mathematics. “I rarely saw evidence of differentiation,” says his mom, Heather, “and Kaden was frequently bored.”
Although Kaden had accelerated an additional grade level each year since kindergarten, in grade three, the school abruptly took him out of his grade three math and put him back into second-grade math.
Kaden scored 77% on his math evaluation. However, the school was looking for 95% to ensure he had the skills necessary to excel in grade three math. According to his teachers, he was missing four essential skills required to advance. His mom felt there was more to the issue than just a lack of specific skills. “Kaden is a quick learner,” says Heather, “but he wasn’t being challenged.”
2.) Finding Elephant Learning
Heather was determined to help her son master the four essential mathematical skills he needed to advance to grade three mathematics. She needed a program that could do this but also address his unique challenges. “The challenge is to understand my son and his abilities and gifts, but also to pinpoint the weak areas that were not adequately covered when he jumped an additional grade level,” says Heather.
She found Elephant Learning and decided to give the program a try.
Elephant Learning was what Heather was looking for and exactly what Kaden needed. Gamification provided the differentiation and engagement Kaden required, and the algorithms driving the program ensured that he mastered the four skills he was missing and continued to build on those foundations.
Even more importantly, Elephant Learning provided the challenge that allows gifted students like Kaden to thrive. In just six short months of playing Elephant Learning, Kaden went from an Elephant Learning Age of only 4.6 years to 11.2 years. That’s a difference of more than six years!
Elephant Learning is Like Having a Math Coach in Your Classroom
Today’s classrooms offer some unique challenges for teachers, particularly in mathematics. Our classes could be multi-grade, but they are undoubtedly multi-level and multi-ability, particularly when it comes to math. A growing number of students in our classrooms are identified as having special learning needs that require interventions. Individualized instruction, though, is almost impossible in a classroom of thirty or more students. While students may quickly grasp rote memorization in such a setting, they can fail to understand the underlying math concepts. As a result, as students progress through elementary school, they struggle even more, which often results in negative behaviors such as acting out or tuning out.
Teachers struggle with math too. Many of us, particularly those of us teaching in elementary schools, don’t have a background in mathematics, and teacher training is often lacking in this critical subject. Math anxiety is a very real problem for some teachers, but also many of our students and parents. And even though we know parental engagement is key to a child’s success in school, we often struggle to get parents involved.
Elephant Learning can help you overcome many of these challenges. More importantly, the app can help get all of your students to where they need to be. We guarantee that students will learn one year of mathematics in just three months by using the app only thirty minutes per week.
The Multi-Level Classroom
As teachers, you can be teaching students at a variety of different levels. Even within specific strands, your students’ understanding can vary widely. Elephant Learning accommodates these differences by embracing the idea that not everyone in your classroom learns at the same pace. Some may immediately grasp a math concept, but many may not. Then we’re faced with either slowing learning down for everyone to bring the strugglers back up to speed or to forge ahead and to risk leaving some behind. Because Elephant Learning is individualized and allows teachers and parents to set specific learning pathways for each student, we eliminate that risk.
If your class is about to tackle multiplication, but some students have not yet mastered addition, you can assign them that specific concept. You can also create cohorts of students within your classroom and assign topics to them through the cohort. By allowing quick learners to get ahead, and slower learners the time to master a specific concept, Elephant Learning ensures your students are exactly where they need to be. It will also quickly bring students up to where you need them to be. On average, children in our system learn 1.5 years of math in about ten weeks.
Very few elementary classroom teachers have a background in mathematics. Even for many who do, teaching math has changed significantly in recent years. This doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent and can’t do it. It simply means they need some help. Common Core provides a framework, but without access to adequate teacher training, it can be a challenge for teachers without a mathematical background to implement. Elephant Learning integrates the pedagogical shifts that have occurred with the implementation of common core and many new state standards such as the emphasis on coherence, fluency, deep understanding, and application rather than simple memorization.
Elephant Learning has built-in teacher training. In addition to assisting with the delivery, we help with assessment and placement through our test out mode feature. The app can help you assess exactly where each student is in their learning and what additional knowledge they require to move forward. The ability to drill down to the exact questions your student can’t answer can help you quickly identify where, why, and how a barrier to their understanding is occurring. Finally, we offer supplemental learning ideas that you can implement outside the app in your classroom.
Studies suggest that approximately 93% of adult Americans suffer from some level of math anxiety, and 17% suffer from a high level of math anxiety. For students, this can lead to behavioral issues in the classroom or students tuning out. It’s a challenge for classroom teachers to address because the root of math anxiety, as well as the way it manifests itself, is different for each student. Because Elephant Learning is individualized, and through the placement exam, it starts every child where they need to start and can find some initial success, math anxiety can be alleviated.
Teachers are not immune. Many elementary teachers suffer from some level of math anxiety, and this translates into a lack of confidence in teaching mathematics. Elephant Learning’s ease of implementation and robust support mechanisms, both within the app and through our support desk, can alleviate much of this anxiety. And the success your students have through their use of the app can help make your math program a success.
Elephant Learning delivers concept-based instruction through a series of puzzles. They are not memorization based. These activities come from early age education experts and are proven to teach the concepts. The key to concept-based learning is providing the right activity to build upon the knowledge already learned. Just like when teachers show students colored objects to teach them colors, Elephant Learning activities exhibit mathematical concepts through having the child determine how to solve the puzzle and then label the concept they used.
This gamification of mathematics engages students at all levels, from those who struggle to those who quickly get it and need to reach ahead. It has also proven to engage students diagnosed with behavioral, emotional, or social challenges such as ADHD, ADD, sensory processing issues, and anxiety.
We have chosen to implement Elephant Learning as a parent purchased app rather than a school or classroom purchased app. The logic behind this is to help you engage your parents in their child’s learning. We all know that students whose parents are involved in their education are far more successful. The approach works. As a teacher, you are provided with a free version of the app and can then invite your parents to purchase the app for their child. We do offer scholarships that can significantly reduce costs for those of you working in low-income neighborhoods.
Initial Student Placement
Elephant Learning’s placement exam uses a test out mode approach. We assign subjects and ask the most challenging questions from each subject. If the child answers all questions correctly, we open up new subjects also in test out mode. If they answer incorrectly or skip a question, we assign that subject.
Our assessments are the actual puzzles attached to each concept, so your students will not realize they are being assessed. This alleviates stress and ensures accuracy. When the placement is complete, the child is automatically switched to the course work for that level, and they will not know the difference.
We prefer to start students at a level below where they actually are. The idea is to allow them to find some success with the program and in mathematics and to avoid having them fail back to a previous level. As a teacher, you can start the students where you think they need to start. However, it is also possible to set the assessments by the age of the child.
We all know that students occasionally forget or lose previously mastered concepts and skills. As the teacher, you also can easily move a child back to a previous assessment using drag and drop within the teacher portal. Any subject that is currently in test out mode for the student will have a star beside it, so you will know exactly what concepts each student is working on.
Reports and Data
Is one of your students stagnating in a particular area? Are they not moving forward? Elephant Learning can help you figure out why. Within the teacher portal, you can see at a glance how your entire class is performing. You can also drill down to individual student-level data.
We all know how critical data has become in our classroom. It informs how we teach and interact with students, parents, and even supervisors. Elephant Learning provides you with a wealth of easily accessible, easily understood data. The teacher portal opens a quadrant style graphic that gives you a quick overview of how much time each child is spending on the app, and where they are in terms of their math understanding measured in Elephant Years.
Elephant Learning Age
The Elephant Age is your student’s real math age. Meaning that if they’re performing at a first-grade level, they’d be showing up as a six-year-old or higher in Elephant Learning Years. We looked at states’ standards and Common Core and ensured our milestones and our system connected to the bullet points on the curriculum. This was a way for us to quickly make it a one-number metric without having it be connected to a specific grade level because standards vary from grade to grade or from district to district.
Reports and data can be shared between parents and teachers, engaging all parties in the students’ success.
In the teacher portal, you can drill down even further to see how each student is performing. You can see which types of questions they are answering correctly and which they are failing consistently. There is a TRY button beside each question that allows you to go in and try it yourself. This is especially useful in establishing where a child is going wrong.
Look at the question with the student and ask them why they chose the answer they did. You’ll get critical insight. The answer might reveal the lack of a specific skill or a problem related to something as simple as a misunderstanding related to language. For example, students may be getting a number line question to twenty but not past forty. If you sit down and draw it out for them through 50, they’ll see it. It goes on forever. Suddenly they will have connected the dots. That’s a great moment for the teacher. You can also refer to questions in the app, during classroom lessons, to help cement students’ understanding.
Creating Cohorts within Classrooms
As a teacher, you can create folders or cohorts of students at specific levels. This way, you have an easy tool as a teacher not only to be able to modify some students but also to look at those students who are below grade level as a separate cohort and understand them better.
The teacher is always in control of student learning. At any time, you can pause a student or group of students, who seem to be struggling with a particular concept, or you can put them in test out mode if the subject has become too easy and they no longer require all of the course work. In the latter, they will quickly test out of that subject and move on to the next.
Personalizing Elephant Learning
To maximize student engagement, Elephant Learning allows students to personalize the app. They can choose from dozens of animal avatars to represent them. Dozens of engaging voices, with accents ranging from Australian to Indian, read the questions to students. If a child has trouble understanding a specific accent, it can be turned off for that child within the system.
And if the system mispronounces a child’s name, they can go in and change that pronunciation by providing a phonetic spelling of their name in settings and testing it out to see how the voices pronounce it.
Timing is Everything
Finally, a word about timing and usage: there is such a thing as too much, even for Elephant Learning. It’s kind of like the present a child opens and plays with continually for a day and then never looks at again. They’ve burned themselves out.
We set the timer by default to twenty minutes. As a teacher, you can lower or raise the time according to the attention span of your particular student or students. Older students or students operating at more advanced levels may benefit from thirty-minute intervals.
What we have found at Elephant Learning is that twenty minutes is optimal, and this can be ten minutes each at home and school. For example, whether it is going to the gym or learning to play the piano or the violin, if you could dedicate ten minutes per day to anything over three months, you’re going to pick up quite a bit. And that goes for math as well.
The other plus of the twenty-minute interval is that students who want to play longer but can’t, are going to be that much more eager to play against the next day. As their teacher, this, too, can work in your favor.
Senna and Talaia struggled with both reading and mathematics. Both girls felt “dumb” while they were in school, and these feelings persisted in homeschool. Worried that her daughters were falling even further behind, their mom decided to send them back to school. However, she was equally determined to ensure they caught up to their peers before they returned. Here is how Elephant Learning helped.
Not everyone learns the same way. Unfortunately, it is not always possible for our schools to teach children in the unique ways that they need to be taught.
This was the case with both nine-year-old Senna and eleven-year-old Talaia. “My daughters are unique learners,” says mom, Tani, “and both struggle with math and reading.”
At school, the girls felt like “dummies,” explains Tani. She decided to homeschool, but their lack of confidence and disinterest in learning continued. Tani knew that it was critical to rekindling both of her daughters’ interests in learning. “I tried to find unique educational experiences to help them grasp math and language arts and to instill a love of reading,” explains mom, “but even after our second year of homeschooling, I knew they were falling farther behind.
Their mom knew her girls were bright. However, discouraged by their lack of progress, she decided this would be their final year of homeschooling. The girls loved the family time they spent together in their homeschool, but Tani felt she couldn’t risk their falling even further behind.
2.) Finding Elephant Learning
Tani also did not want to send Senna and Talaia back to a school environment, which would further diminish their confidence. “I was hoping they could at least catch up to the grade level they would be placed in at school so Senna and Talaia wouldn’t feel “dumb” like they had when they were in school before,” she says.
“They are smart kids,” Tani says, “I just don’t know how to teach them, but then neither did their school.” She needed a program and an approach that could get through to the girls.
Her search for the affordable, unique learning resources she knew her daughters needed led Tani to Elephant Learning.
3.) Senna and Talaia’s Experience With Elephant Learning
Elephant Learning helped Senna and Talaia understand mathematical concepts and begin to learn and excel in a way that neither Tani nor their teachers had been able to. Suddenly they were finding success with mathematics, an achievement that could eventually lead to confidence in all aspects of their academics and life.
Within just six months of starting the program, Senna had gained 1.2 years of math, while Talaia had gained 1.4 years. Both girls were now almost on par with their peers in their understanding of mathematics.