Delete those old Math Programs!

May 8, 2007 by

Whenever I see a student struggling to make a 10 year old program run on our computers at school I cringe. They click on Math Programs, and then try to open up Math Workshop or some other ancient program to practice their math facts, only to be presented with a black screen, followed by the computer screen changing it’s colors to the the lowest setting, and decreasing the resolution to a blurry 600×800. When it’s finally done, the program is glitchy, runs poorly, often displays large black squares instead of the background, and generally confuses them:

“Mr. Rimes, my computer won’t work! It won’t let me play the game!”

I tell them that they’ll have to go to another program as the one they’re in just isn’t working well, but what I really want to say to them is that the computer is working just fine. However, it’s having an incredibly difficult time trying to run a program that was made before they were born, and technically isn’t even supposed to be running on our computers according to the manufacturer’s website (it says that program will NOT run in Windows XP).

I also want to question why such programs are still being used in our school, when there are hundreds of great interactive math websites (all of them FREE) out there on the Internet. They don’t have problems running on new machines, there’s no intricate system of patches and work-arounds that have to be performed by the IT staff in order to make them work, AND they’re constantly updated with new games, challenges, practice problems, and more goodies (for FREE). Don’t have enough time to go find the websites yourself? HOGWASH! A simple Google search for “interactive math games” returns more than 1.3 million websites that contain math facts, timed tests, games, puzzles, and more. I’d like to see some outdated and overpriced piece of programming give me that huge a selection. And in case you’re too busy to do a simple Google search at the moment (I can appreciate having little time to explore), here are five websites from the first page of results for interactive math games.

Create Your Own Math Game
I got to blast ghosts and practice my multiples of 10, ye-haa!

Quick Flash
Solve those flash cards as fast as you can before time runs out!

Gamequarium
HUGE collection of math games with a “fishy” theme.

Apples 4 the Teacher
Have fun with tangrams online without the hassle of losing all of those pieces.

Elementary Math Games
Don’t like any of the above choices. GO here and pick from the dozens of games they have linked to.

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9 Comments

  1. Rich

    Nice point…. there’s only one program that I’ll truly be sad about when it no longer runs on the Windows OS, and that’s Logical Journey of the Zoombinis! It’s still doing well on our XP machines, but I haven’t (yet) had the chance to try it out on Vista.

  2. Karen Bosch

    If you are looking for more interactive math websites, here is a list of Math “Learning Links” that I have made for our elementary students (and teachers and parents) to use. Lots of great games, and at the end of the list are some math worksheet generators. From grades K/1 and up, I try to teach the kids to use these links on our school website as a good resource. Hope this can provide some more websites that students will like to use!

    http://www.southfieldchristian.org/elem/learninglinks/html/linksmath.html

  3. Hey all
    Thanks for pointing out all these great resources.
    Dale

  4. I love it! This is exactly why I blog. The great links and input from other sources makes the information and resources that much more valuable.

    Karen, thanks for the link to your website, I’ll have to add it to the Fresh Links page.

    Rich, I had to smile when I read your comment because Zoombinis in the one program that several people in our building would LOVE to get rid of first. Interesting how each school/environment uses and appreciates it’s resources.

  5. Ben,

    I know this comment is a little “late,” but I thought people might find links on this page of my website useful:

    http://www.bayworld.net/ferlazzo/math.html

    My school is beginning a Math Computer Lab next year using our ESL Computer Lab as a model. I was asked if I could prepare a page for their use on my site. I’ve put about fifty of the most interesting, fun, and useful sites I could find under the category ‘Sites to Be Categorize.”

    I’ll have it in a much better form by the fall.

    Larry

  6. Rich

    Ben – I’ve got to say, you’ve got me a little bit curious. What causes those folks to dislike Zoombinis so strongly?

    Rich

  7. Rich, the frustration with the Zoombinis program comes from it’s clunkiness on our machines. We have so many programs (most of them well past their prime) on the computers that many patches, fixes, and work-arounds have been put in place to ensure they all run. Because of this Zoombinis will often crash, and perform less than adequately. The idea is that the fewer of these programs we have on the computers, the better the rest of the programs will run.

    Thanks for the great site, Larry!

  8. Tom

    Can anyone help me please i have both zoombinis and they worked fine on xp but now i got vista both dotn work šŸ™ i need an emulator or something!!!

  9. I keep listening to the news speak about getting free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the best site to get one.

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