Product Review for McGraw-Hill’s Redbird Math
For over half a century, McGraw-Hill has been the gold standard in PreK-12 and higher education curriculum and instruction in the United States. I have a unique history with McGraw-Hill, as I can remember being educated as a K-12 and college student with their textbooks and workbooks. Also, as an elementary school teacher, I used their products to educate and remediate my students. And lastly, as a professor of education, I used McGraw-Hill textbooks to train future teachers and education administrators. I can genuinely say that my relationship with McGraw-Hill products has been full circle.
So, when I was asked to review Redbird Mathematics, I accepted the opportunity. This product is a part of McGraw-Hill Education’s Redbird suite of offerings, which provide personalized learning to elementary-level students in a variety of subjects. Keep reading to find out what I think of Redbird Mathematics.
An overview of Redbird Mathematics
Redbird Mathematics provides students in grades K-7 with a personalized mathematics learning path by leveraging adaptive instruction, gamification, and digital project-based learning. This allows the supplemental platform to deliver precisely what each student needs to develop math fluency and aptitude.
Every teacher-assigned unit of Redbird Mathematics ends with an extended STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) problem, and 20 of the 56 units end with a digital STEM project focused on the unit’s topic.
How I approached the demo process
To facilitate this review, I took an interactive, hands-on tour using the Student Demo tool. This allowed me to experience the interactive instruction, practice item sets, digital manipulatives, skill-based games, and real-world STEM connections just as a student would. The demo also provided me with lots of insights into the nuances of the platform’s capabilities, and how teachers can leverage them to foster student learning.
After this, I demoed Redbird Mathematics for myself using an active student account. When a student logs in for the first time, the system presents the learner with a series of placement questions. The system uses this information to assess the present level of math ability, which allows it to place each student at the appropriate starting point within the Redbird Mathematics curriculum (K-7).
My thoughts as I demoed the product
As a former K-12 teacher, I appreciate the fact that each lesson begins with a brief introduction to the concepts covered. As I began to work through the course material, I was impressed by the nuanced things that Redbird Mathematics does to meet the needs of different learning styles and to incorporate multiple instructional modalities–including digital manipulatives, explicit instruction, and guided exploration. Brief video animations highlight and explain key concepts along the way..
When students begin to grasp the mathematical principles needed to be successful using each math skill, they practice and apply these concepts to complex problems. The problems that they are presented with contain additional instruction to help scaffold the learning process.
As they complete math practice problems they receive two attempts at answering each item. The system conveniently addresses common errors and misconceptions. The student is shown the correct responses after two incorrect attempts, and detailed feedback is provided to explain the correct answer. This allows students to practice math in a supportive environment that uses missteps and feedback to build math proficiency.
The rigor and complexity of the program increases as concepts like extended place value are introduced. Every part of the problem piggybacks on previous knowledge, as students are required to apply their conceptual understanding. The platform does an excellent job of introducing students to multi-part problems, which help them to become comfortable with digital high-stakes assessments.
I was impressed by the gamification feature, which provides students with extra practice and goes beyond math fluency by building conceptual understanding. Most companies don’t invest the time or money to add such nuanced features to their products.
After completing several units, students are asked to showcase their mastery of skills using STEM performance tasks and project-based learning. These projects also introduce various STEM careers and explain how mathematics is utilized in real-world professions. These projects start with an introductory video to integrate students into the task at hand and to introduce the project goals. An interview with a STEM professional further sets the stage for student exploration. The ethnic and gender diversity of the professionals inspire learners to consider a future for themselves in STEM.
Redbird’s digital project-based approach requires students to apply mathematical thinking to robust problems. These projects begin with the student identifying the essential tasks that will need to be completed. Next, they are required to analyze multiple data sources and synthesize information to find solutions. Lastly, the project ends with the student being trained to utilize digital tools that reflect those used by STEM professionals.
Another feature that I love is the Snapshot Progress Report, which allows students to view their learning progress. This interactive report displays each student’s learning pathway throughout the curriculum. It also has a calendar view which displays the time/duration that students worked. Teachers can click on any box from the snapshot to open a video replay of the student’s click-by-click activity within that module. This shows if they answered correctly on their first or second attempt, or incorrectly. This feature can also be used to help students understand their mistakes. How amazing is that?
It’s no secret that students regularly struggle with math. However, most education experts feel the issue is more about motivation and engagement than ability and aptitude. Enter Redbird Mathematics. After demoing this product, I was impressed by its nuances and advanced features, which work together to help students in grades K-7 develop math fluency and conceptual understanding. Also, it can motivate students with math anxiety to face their fears and frustrations. As students reflect on their mistakes, they will start to see them as a necessary stop on the road to math fluency. For instance, when students are learning the PEMDAS rule, if they make a mistake, the system helps them to recover.
I wholeheartedly recommend this platform to all classroom teachers, administrators, math coaches, etc., who are striving to increase their student’s math fluency, proficiency, and confidence. You won’t be disappointed. If you adopt Redbird Mathematics no longer will your students avoid math, they will embrace it.