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Students 'Beat the Computer' to Learn Math

Using a new electronic version of math flash cards, thousands of parents and students in the Long Beach Unified School District are going online to match wits with a competitive computer. The innovative "Beat the Computer" drills, developed by the district's math specialists, use Microsoft PowerPoint to help students memorize important math facts. The free and fun drills are available to students and parents on the school district's website, www.lbusd.k12.ca.us, in the alphabetical index under Math Computer Drills. "Kids like it because it's like a challenging video game," said Dixie Dawson, the district's math curriculum leader. Behind the fun and games is serious business. Total mastery of basic math facts is key to success on timed tests, including state-mandated exams. In the motivating drills, students are challenged to say the answers aloud before the computer reveals the correct response. Students who keep pace with the computer are considered "advanced proficient," the district's goal for all students in basic math facts. "We're trying to help students take ownership of their own learning," Dawson said. "With the drills, they can go online anytime to test their progress without relying on others." Students also use the drills as warm-ups in computer labs, and parents use them with their children at home to stay involved in their learning. During the holidays, the drills provide a constructive way for children to spend time on the computer. Lessons increase in difficulty from basic facts to more advanced high school quizzes including trigonometry. New lessons are added frequently. The drills require Microsoft PowerPoint or a PowerPoint viewer. Users who do not have PowerPoint installed on their computers can download the free viewer from Microsoft by clicking on one of the links provided on the "Beat the Computer" web page. For information, contact Dixie Dawson at the Math Office, 997-8000, ext 2962.