Free Math Mapper Tool Helps Parents, Teachers Advance Mathematical Learning for Middle Grades Students at Home During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Kids climbing a wall

As schools in North Carolina have moved toward remote learning to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Jere Confrey, Ph.D., Joseph D. Moore Distinguished Professor of mathematics education at the NC State College of Education, and the Scaling Up Digital Design Studies (SUDDS) team are offering an online mathematics diagnostic tool for free to the public.

Providing Support During COVID-19

The NC State College of Education is committed to supporting educators, students and parents as they teach and learn remotely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. To help with this, we have created a page dedicated to providing tips and resources to ease the transition to at-home learning

The Math Mapper tool offers free diagnostic practice problems and assessments designed to evaluate middle school students’ mathematical progress on learning trajectories to determine what students know and what they still need to learn.

As educators and parents adapt to the new online learning environment, Confrey said she believes that offering Math Mapper freely for everyone provides an independent and rigorous way to ensure students are learning and determine what steps need to be taken to support further progress in mathematical understanding.

“Many school-aged students will no longer be assessed continuously and informally as they would be during their classes. The Math Mapper tool provides all students with free access to practice items at any level of learning trajectories, which cover all the big ideas of middle grades and are based on up-to-date research on patterns in student learning,” Confrey said.

Tips to Help Middle School Students Learn From Home

Learning Science Researcher Meetal Shah, Ph.D., shared the following tips from Common Sense Media to help students learn to work remotely and asynchronously while providing them with an opportunity to take ownership of their learning. 

  • Review your school’s plan: Parents should use instructions provided by your child’s teacher or school as a guide to plan time for remote learning.
  • Set a schedule: Make sure everyone is on the same page so parents don’t need to nag students about completing schoolwork.
  • Manage your expectations: Kids will not be learning at the same pace or breadth as they were during a typical school day. Parents should plan on remote learning to take place for about two to three hours a day to start.
  • Make time for breaks and fun: Kids and parents are likely feeling stressed and anxious as they manage this transition, so it’s important to take opportunities to relax and have fun together.

Math Mapper offers immediate, item-by-item feedback for students to help them continue working at their ability level until they fully understand a mathematical concept. The assessments check for depth of understanding as well as procedural knowledge, and provide teachers and parents with intuitive and easily digestible summary reports about a student’s progress.

Students are also able to use the website’s screen share feature to share their Math Mapper data reports when they meet online with teachers, allowing them to both communicate their progress and take the opportunity to ask for additional help on difficult problems or with the levels of the trajectories.

Meetal Shah, Ph.D., a learning science researcher on the SUDDS project, said the team has created three short introductory videos to help students understand how to access the diagnostic assessments and use the data reports in Math Mapper.

In addition, the software application offers links to free online resources that address topics related to the learning trajectories students may be working on to help them further develop conceptual knowledge.

“The Math Mapper tool ensures that students continue to move along and gain the skills and knowledge expected at their grade level or beyond,” Shah said.