Story of the Month: Linda Ricksen

Linda Ricksen, a third grade teacher Mount Erie Elementary Schools in Anacortes, Washington, has seen lots of changes in education and technology, including when she herself was a student. “I said, ‘I’m never going to be a secretary or admin, so why do I need to take a touch typing class?’” She chuckles, “Was I ever wrong! Now that we’re all using computers and other devices, it’s clear we all need to take advantage of whatever we can to help us teach, learn and grow.”

Bridging Math Gaps with DreamBox
Linda had been using DreamBox technology since 2011 after she was introduced to it by a math coach. “I took one look at the game-like environment and math models, like the number line, area model, ten frames and knew that it provided the right solution.” She adds, ‘It was in line with the models I was already using. It felt advanced, particularly because of its Common Core State Standards for Math alignment.”

Linda comments, “I knew we had to make a significant difference in math ASAP. DreamBox helps me make the most use of online and ‘human’ resources to maximize instruction and be able to stay on top of what kids need most.”

  • DreamBox in the classroom.  For 45 minutes, once a week, students use the lab. 
  • ‘Math Boosters’ afterschool program. Four days a week, third graders use DreamBox until 4:15pm.
  • Before school and lunchtime access. Having even more access to lessons is particularly important for those who don’t have computers at home or need remedial work. “All I need to do is open the lab and they come for DreamBox time,” says Linda.

DreamBox at Home
Kids are given stars to show how many DreamBox lessons they’ve completed. The stars are progressively larger depending on how many lessons have been completed, and are posted on a public board. The students love getting them. Laughs Linda, “Guess who the superstar winner is this week—Ryan’s kindergarten brother (! Ryan, a student in my third grade class was on DreamBox, so his parents purchased an additional subscription for Logan. He can’t get enough of DreamBox, and the older kids think he’s ‘thrown down the gauntlet.” Now that the competition is on with the ‘littlest user,’ kids are completing lessons at an even faster rate, and the number of large stars and students who are on DreamBox (in more grades) keeps growing.

“Mental Math at Its Best”
“2012 growth in such a short time has been astounding.” Linda reports that although she is still sorting out all the data, she does have some clear observations. “We can see a correlation between most recent MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) scores and DreamBox usage. The five lowest performers on MAP test growth were the students who were the five who used DreamBox least. Anyone completing less than 62 lessons seems to have adversely affected their growth. So now that we have a marker, I believe the goal is to increase use above 62 lessons.”

Linda has compared many other math learning programs, and says, “There is nothing quite like DreamBox. The models support deep math comprehension understanding. This is not a game – this is mental math at its best.