How to Harness the “Magic” of DreamBox’s Adaptive Engine

Tips to Help Students Productively Struggle – and Still Feel Successful

One of the most often frequent questions I hear from parents, students, and other DreamBox educators is, “What if the lesson is too challenging?”  Here’s my guide to helping students make the transition to this “different style of learning” – using adaptive tools.

DreamBox Learning Math is tremendously adaptive. Here are several best practices I believe are vital to keep in mind as DreamBox “does its job.”

  1. Remind families (and yourself) NOT to help students answer problems. This will only get more frustrating if they (or you!) do, because the system can only assume the math learner is doing the thinking independently. If this accidentally happens, DreamBox will eventually adapt back to a “just right” level for the student, however, it can take much longer than just not making the mistake to begin with.
  2. Encourage a growth mindset, and have regular discussions with kids to assure them that it’s okay if they get the “Oops, try again!” notification. Given that they are trying to problem solve using different strategies, as well as listen to (and not just watch) the immediate feedback that is given to them following the mistake, explaining to your learners that DreamBox doesn’t ever display 7/10 or 70% of problems answered correctly (like on traditional tests they’re familiar with) will help them be okay with the act of productive struggle.
  3. Encourage students to FINISH lessons all the way through as often as possible. I explain to students that DreamBox is constantly taking their key strokes, strategies used, efficiency, and type of incorrect answers into consideration to build the best “next steps” for them. However, unless they follow through the lesson entirely, DreamBox doesn’t necessarily register all of the intellect. The best way for a learner to show what he/she knows or doesn’t know is to finish the lesson. Give them the confidence and assurance that the activities will adjust.
  4. AssignFocus™ is a great way to help guide student learning. I assign lessons to support students on current “class-level concepts” that we are working on in small groups. When you assign by standard, you are given the ability to see where students are placed at different levels of the learning path based on their current understanding of the concept. I also assign based on distinct needs or to celebrate mastery with a student who may be really close to earning mastery on a concept, even if we aren’t currently focused on it as a class.
  5. Set weekly goals. I ask students to complete at least four of my AssignFocus activities a week, however, they can alternate back and forth between those and the other titles, which can provide a mental break from productive struggle if he/she is feeling more comfortable with a different title.
  6. Establish a conference form. I set up a Google form where students can sign up for individual conferences based on activities they feel they are struggling too much on. I use it for other areas as well, however for DreamBox, my expectation is that the student attempts the activity at least two days prior to signing up, pointing out that sometimes a “fresh look” or group conversation in between can make the difference in knowing what to do. When I meet with my students, I login from my account and click on the lesson from their activity feed, as to not impact their path from their account.

I hope these tips, based on my own classroom experience, show educators that, if using best practices, you can show students the real magic of DreamBox and their own math success!

Amy Crisp

Amy Crisp

Amy Crisp is a 5th grade STEM teacher in Olentangy Local Schools, and has been working alongside intermediate-aged learners for over 15 years. Design Thinking is at the heart of her quest to personalize the path and space for her budding mathematicians and scientists. She looks forward to when she gets a chance to take a break from it all by hanging with her two kids at the park, going for a run, or dancing her heart out, Zumba-style. She is a DreamBox Hero and guest blogger.
Amy Crisp

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