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I've been teaching high school math for over 20 years. I write about my experiences here and also share activities that I have done with my classes that have been successful (and some that have been not so successful).
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How to use DeltaMath.com



Now that I have given you the history of DeltaMath.com (the best website for online math practice) and talked about what DeltaMath can and cannot (yet) do, I'm going to tell you how to use DeltaMath in your middle school or high school math class.

As homework.

Assigning DeltaMath as homework is the primary way that I use DeltaMath in my classroom. Say "goodbye" to textbook problems and boring worksheets. Assign DeltaMath! My students even groan when their homework is *not* DeltaMath. 

I will do one shameless plug here and say that if DeltaMath doesn't have the types of questions I need, then I will assign my students another self-checking activity such as a circuit or a maze. Check out all my self-checking assignments from my TeachersPayTeachers store here.

As an assignment to do with a substitute.

If you have a child and have ever woken up to discover the child has a fever - or maybe you, yourself have a fever - then you know the stress of having to call in sick at the last minute. 

DeltaMath to the rescue! It only takes a couple of minutes to create an assignment to keep the students engaged while the sub is there.

My favorite thing about leaving DeltaMath with a sub is that I can monitor the students from home - I do this if I am feeling fine but have to stay home with a sick child. 

I once checked on the progress of my students 20 minutes after class had started. I saw that the majority of the students had not yet started the assignment so I sent them an email with the subject, "I can see you." I told them that I had just checked on their progress and was disappointed that so few had started. 

When I returned to class the next day the students told me they freaked out and wondered if I had a camera in the clock and was literally watching them. (cue evil laugh.)

As extra practice.

Every year I have a student (usually one of my Honors students) who wants to know where they can go to do extra practice. Since it's so easy to create an assignment in DeltaMath, I can set up an optional assignment in less than 5 minutes; and I love that I don't have to mess with due dates or late penalties - I will set the due date to some time after the unit is over or the semester is over.

Another reason to set up DeltaMath for extra practice is that maybe the questions on DeltaMath don't have the rigor you want or they have *some* questions that cover your unit, but not all. In those cases, I assign my students the required homework from another source and also tell them there's some optional DeltaMath they could do.

As an assessment.

The assessment feature is only available with the Plus subscription. When my school was hybrid for the first 6 weeks of the 2020-2021 school year, I used the new Assessment feature. It was awesome! 

My favorite feature is that if you assign a module and don't care which question from the module gets assigned, then each student gets a different question. You also have the ability to assign a specific question to all students from a module. 

Not only can you limit the amount of time the students have for the assessment, but you can also manually add extra time for students with extra time accommodations.

EXTRA TIP: If a student gets locked out or thrown out of the DeltaMath assessment and you have to reset it, he will get all new questions from any DeltaMath modules you have assigned. (He will get the same teacher-created questions, of course.) Encourage the students to write down everything on their paper - from the original question to the final answer.

One of my students got locked out before his time was up and he had still 2 questions yet to do. I reset the assessment and all questions had all changed. I told him just to do the final 2 because he had all of his work on his paper that he was going to later send me. Turns out he didn't write down his final answers on his paper. He used his calculator to do his final calculation and then just typed it into DeltaMath and those answers got lost when the assessment was reset. 

What if a student is absent when they're supposed to take the test?

This is a question that comes up in the DeltaMath Official Facebook Group a lot. For example, let's suppose that all of your students are going to take the test at the scheduled time, but one student has to take it the next day.

If you set a 'time limit' to the assessment, then you can assign it to your entire class at once. 

The student who has to take it later will see the assessment is available, but will also see a message that if they choose to begin the assignment, the countdown timer will start. 

From your end, you will be able to see that the student has opened the test and whether or not they have looked at any of the questions. Therefore, tell the student who is taking it later that they should not begin until their scheduled make-up time.

What the students see when they log into DeltaMath for an assignment that has a time limit.


The next day when the make-up student is taking it, the students that have already taken the test will see it in their list of assignments, but they won't be able to open the test or even see the questions because their time has run out.

Another option is to assign the test to 'Individuals and Groups' and select all of the students who are planning to take it during your scheduled class time. Then when the make-up student takes it, you can individually add them to the assigned list.

After the student clicks on "Begin Assignment NOW," (see the image above) then the countdown
timer will begin and the students will see the list of questions and their point values.


Ending the test

If you have set a time limit on a test and a student finishes before their time runs out, then they can click on Back to go back to their list of Upcoming Assignments and they will have the option to end the test early.


EXTRA TIP: Don't be like me and have trouble figuring out how to allow your students to see the assessment after they have all finished it. For "Hide Assignment After Due Date" be sure to have "yes" selected. I didn't have that at first. Oops! It can be changed after everyone has taken it. I also changed "Results Shown" from "Not for now" to "After due date." 








To have a penalty or not to have a penalty

When creating a Standard Assignment, you can set a penalty for when a student gets a problem wrong. 

For example, if you want students to do 4 problems from a module and the penalty is 1 point, then every time they miss a question, they will lose a point. If the student does 3 problems correct, but then does the 4th problem wrong, their score would be 2. The student then has to do 2 more problems correct in a row to get up to the required 4.

You can have the penalty as low as 0.25 points, you can have "no penalty," or you can make their score in that module reset back to zero if they get one wrong.

I usually choose "no penalty" because, during my first experience with DeltaMath, I saw a student solving about 20 simple derivative problems when I had only required 5. She kept making an error and getting penalized. She was having to work much longer just to get 5 right. 

I have a colleague, however, who always puts a 0.25 penalty to prevent the lazy students from skipping problems continuously clicking on "See Solution" in order to get an easier problem.

Change the number of attempts the students get

Changing the number of attempts on one problem is one of my favorite features. Students often type something wrong and hastily click on "Submit Answer" before checking it or sometimes students make a simple mistake in their work and that makes the answer wrong. 

On questions that are quick or take only a minute or two to solve, I give 2 attempts. On questions that are more involved and take three or four minutes to solve, I give 3 attempts.

 

If I haven't convinced you yet to start incorporating DeltaMath as part of your regular routine in your math classroom, check out my blog post about what DeltaMath can and cannot (yet) do.



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