update_dec_2010_family

The Updated Math Garden

The updated version of Math Garden will be available from December 2010 onwards. All Math Garden users have automatically been given access to this new version. In this manual we will explain what the innovations and new functionalities are and what they mean for our users.

Content manual:

  • Children
    1. New arithmetic games
    2. Base garden and Bonus garden
    3. Children decide the level of the sums
  • Teachers or parents
    1. Set up the availability of the games yourself
    2. Overview of the garden settings
    3. Ability scores

New garden environment:

Children:

The updated garden environment increases the user friendliness for children, making it more fun to use. In this new environment, children can use the garden map to easily navigate between the trophy case, the explanation page, and the garden pages.

Garden map:

1. New math games:

Math Garden is now BIGGER with several new math games:

  • Numbers: In this game you have to derive a given number by combining a set of numbers and mathematical symbols. For example: use the numbers 2, 4 and 9 to make the number 1 (2 x 4 = 8, 9 – 8 = 1). To accomplish this task it is important to understand the relations between numbers.
  • Fractions+: This updated fraction task uses a combination of fractions, percentages and ratio sums. Compared to the previous fractions task, this task better represents the curriculum in higher grades. (Fractions+ replaces the previous fractions task.)
  • Slowmix: This game uses a mix of the four basic operations (+, -, x, : ) with a response window of 40 seconds. We found that the response window of the current games (20 sec.) was too small for some children, especially those weaker in math.
  • Balance: In this game, a scale contains weights on both sides. You must determine which side of the scale is heavier and will go down.
  • Flower code: In this Mastermind lookalike game, you have to determine the right order of the flowers.

The tasks in these games range from very easy to very difficult, which make them suitable for all children. In Balance and Flower Code games, general cognitive skills (like logical reasoning) are very important. These tasks were added mainly because of their relevance to our research on arithmetic skills. There is a possibility that these tasks will be replaced in the future.

Finally, the response window of the existing Speed Mix task is larger (10 seconds). The main reason for this extension is to ensure that children also get more difficult problems to solve in a relatively short period of time.

2. Base garden and Bonus garden:

Every child has access to a Base garden and the new Bonus garden. Children can only play in this Bonus garden if they have sufficiently practiced the games in the Base garden. So if a plant in the Base garden is withered, the child cannot enter the Bonus garden. The plants in the bonus garden cannot wither.

Base garden: Bonus garden:

Why? The Bonus garden motivates children to sufficiently practice all the available math games. Moreover, the Bonus garden rewards children by allowing them to choose what games they want to play. For this purpose, the Bonus garden also contains the Flower Code game.

How does it work? On the right side of the new garden environment, you can see the garden map including the two garden pages. When children want to play in the Bonus garden, they click on the picture of the Bonus garden in the garden map and the Bonus garden will appear. If some games of the Base garden are not sufficiently practiced, a lock will appear in front of the Bonus garden, which means that children cannot enter.

3. Children determine the level of the sums:

Because Math Garden is adaptive, children automatically receive exercises on their own level. In the updated version, children still play on their own level, but within this level they have the ability to determine whether the exercises are easy, average or difficult.

Depending on this choice, children receive a different amount of coins for correct answers. With difficult exercises, they earn more coins from good answers. With average exercises, children play at the same level of the Math Garden as it was before the update, and so they earn the same amount of coins from good answers as before. With easy exercises, children earn the least amount of coins for good answers.

Level of the exercises:

Why? This adjustment makes Math Garden more adaptive and it gives children the feeling that they can influence the way they practice their sums. This makes Math Garden more appealing both for children who need a bigger challenge, and for children who can be motivated by the success of completing easier exercises. It is possible to adjust the difficulty level in both the Base garden and the Bonus garden.

A child’s ability score can increase rapidly when they play difficult exercises and answer them correctly and quickly. Therefore, the difficult setting is also recommended for children who play math games below their level; for example, when they play for the first time or when they didn’t play for a long time.

How does it work? The three difficulty icons are on the right side of the new garden environment, beneath the garden map. When a child clicks on a difficulty icon, a red box surrounds it to highlight their selection. Once a difficulty has been chosen, all games they play in the Base garden will be played at that level. The difficulty will remain unaltered until they click another icon.

When children don’t click on one of the icons, they will automatically play average exercises (just as Math Garden did before the update).

Teachers or Parents:

1. Set up the availability of the games yourself

Teachers or parents have the ability to determine which games are available in the Base garden and in the Bonus garden. This way, they can decide for each child which math games they should practice and which games they may practice.
When teachers or parents decide not to do this, the program will automatically determine which games will be placed in the Base garden and Bonus garden, just as Math Garden did before the update.

Why? So that teachers or parents can indicate which games are important and should be practiced. For example, a teacher may make available only those games which correspond to the curriculum or only the games that are difficult for the child. Naturally, all games remain adaptive to ensure that all children play on their own level.

2. Overview of the garden settings:

Math Garden offers three different garden settings. There are two pre-programmed gardens: The Standard Math Garden and The Alternative Math Garden. There is also the option to manually configure the garden: The Adjusted Math Garden.

Standard Math Garden:

When teachers or parents decide not to configure the garden, a child will automatically be given the Standard Math Garden. The Standard Garden is mainly focused on automating children’s mental arithmetic skills. The overview below presents which games are placed in the Base Garden or the Bonus Garden for this setting.

Alternative Math Garden:

The Alternative Math Garden is mainly focused on increasing children’s understanding of the relations between numbers. Children are offered the following games:

Adjusted Math Garden:

In the Adjusted Math Garden, teachers and parents have the ability to determine which games are placed in the Base garden and in the Bonus garden. This way, they can decide for each child which games are shown in the garden.

Similarly, the administrator of the school can make an Adjusted Math Garden for the whole school. Thereafter, a teacher may configure a personal garden for a child or for the whole class. In this way, Math Garden matches the ability and talents of each child.

Difference between pre-programmed gardens and adjusted garden:

Dependency: Unlike in the Adjusted Math Garden, the games in the pre-programmed gardens are dependent on each other. This means that some math games only become available after a child meets the requirements. As before the Math Garden update, higher level math games will only become available in the Base garden and in the Bonus garden, after a child scores high enough on lower level math games.

In the Adjusted Math Garden, teachers or parents have complete control over which games are available.

Slowmix: For both pre-programmed gardens, the Slowmix task isn’t included in the Base garden and the Bonus garden. When a child needs more response time, the Slowmix can be added to his or her garden by making an Adjusted garden for this child in which the Slowmix is included.

Garden Settings

How does it work? In the Garden Center under the pull-down menu Administration and Garden Setting, one can configure a garden per child (teachers or parents), per class (teachers or parents) or per school (administrators).

In this overview you can see the garden setting of the school or family in the column Garden Setting. Teachers see also in this column whether the class(es) have other garden settings than the school. In the next column Personalized, teachers can see per class how many children have other garden settings than the settings of that class.

Change the Garden Setting of the school (only for administrators):

If the administrator wants to change the garden setting of the school, click on edit behind the name of the school.

On the page Edit Garden Setting School you can choose between three garden settings. When you click on Standard or Alternative, you can see in the overview below which games are assigned to which garden.

If you want to configure a garden yourself, click on Custom. There will appear a table with three boxes with which you can assign games to the Base garden and Bonus garden.

If you want to remove a game from both gardens, you have to place the game in the Disabled box. Click OK if you have chosen the right garden setting for the school. In the Garden Setting School Overview you now see the new garden setting for the whole school in the Garden Setting column.

Change garden settings of a class (only for teachers):

If a teacher wants to change the garden setting of the class, click for the right class on School Class Overview.

Then click on edit after the name of the class in the Garden Setting School Class Overview

On the page Edit Garden Setting School Class you can choose between four garden settings. The first option is the School setting. The second and third options are the pre-programmed Standard and Alternative Gardens. When you click on Standard or Alternative, you can see in the overview below which games are assigned to which garden. If you want to configure a garden yourself, click on Custom.

There will appear a table with three boxes with which you can assign games to the Base garden and Bonus garden. If you want to remove a game from both gardens, you have to place the game in the Disabled box. Click OK if you have chosen the right garden setting for the class. In the Garden Setting School Class Overview you now see the new garden setting for the whole class in the Garden Setting column.

Change garden settings for a child (for teachers and parents):

If a teacher or parent wants to change the garden setting of a child, click behind the name of the child on Edit.

On the page Edit Garden Setting User you can choose between four garden settings. The first option is the School or Family setting. The second and third options are the pre-programmed Standard and Alternative Gardens. When you click on Standard or Alternative, you can see in the overview below which games are assigned to which garden. If you want to configure a garden yourself, click on Custom.

There will appear a table with three boxes with which you can assign games to the Base garden and Bonus garden. If you want to remove a game from both gardens, you have to place the game in the Disabled box. Click OK if you have chosen the right garden setting for the class. In the Garden Setting Overview you now see the new garden setting for the child in the Garden Setting column.

3. Ability scores:

The updated Math Garden has an improved system for calculating a child’s ability scores. The ability score is a representation of a child’s overall skill level and is based, in part, on the percentage of the Math Garden’s math problems which they have completed. Ability scores appear in the garden on the signs in front of each flower bed, and in the Garden Center you can see the ability scores of each child in the results page for every domain. Because of the update, ability scores may be slightly different for returning users. After a few play sessions, the ability score will stabilize again.

Perhaps also interesting: