GCFLearnFree - Math Basics

Website review by
Michelle Kitt, Common Sense Media
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Goodwill turns charitable donations into free math lessons.

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Educational Value

Kids can learn addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, and percents and will apply them to everyday situations like giving correct change or making calculations in Microsoft Excel or Google spreadsheets.  Feedback varies depending on the activity -- practice problem answers are printed directly below the questions while help and hints vary by the game. Quiz results show correct and incorrect answers with links to review content. Kids will build confidence in their skills as they progress through self-paced tutorials that cover math fundamentals as they relate to daily life.

Positive Messages

As they master the content, kids will build confidence in their math skills.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that GCFLearnFree - Math Basics is a collection of self-paced tutorials that cover arithmetic, everyday math, and spreadsheets in a no-cost, ad-free environment. GCFLearnFree - Math Basics teaches math for employment; elementary and middle school kids will be able to follow along but won't relate to some of the practice situations. The material is designed to teach people who are not already learning math elsewhere.

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What's it about?

Math Basics consists of about a dozen math-based tutorials assembled from other learning areas of GCFLearnFree's expansive suite of lessons and activities. Once kids click a topic, they may watch a video or follow step-by-step lessons, then practice with interactive activities, games, simple simulations, practice problems and quizzes. All Math Basics tutorials are self-assessed and users can sign up for a free account to track their progress and quiz scores.

Is it any good?

GCFLearnFree - Math Basics uses proceeds from Goodwill stores to create and provide education. Subjects are based on tech trends, workplace needs, and learner input gained from social media, exit surveys, and analytics. As a result, it's incredibly relevant and accessible; learners can complete the short, free lessons within the typical online time limits at public libraries or they can print them on a few sheets of paper. The math is procedural; learners are dutifully told to "carry the 1" when adding without getting at the concept behind regrouping groups of tens, hundreds, and so on. Even so the design is sound, with chances for play, practice, and self-assessment. It's well done, and not just in a "good for a free site" kind of way.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • How does a basketball coach use math? What about a marine biologist, a ballerina, or a cartoonist? Have a "math scavenger hunt" and challenge kids to uncover how math is used in jobs other than retail or banking. Even basic math skills like counting, counts.

  • Investigate famous math mistakes such as the square windows on the Havilland Comet or the conversion error that lost the $125 million Mars Climate Observer.

  • Read our advice about how to use technology resources appropriately to improve performance in school.

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