Motivating students in the morning is sometimes the most difficult part of the day. Want a great jump start activity to get mental muscles warmed up for school? Among the many educational products offered by Lone Star Learning, we were given Target the Question Digital to review, and found it to be an enjoyable way to engage our brains and enhance our thinking skills.
Target the Question Digital is an online program geared to systematically practice and strengthen problem solving skills using real life scenarios. It isn’t enough that students have memorized math fact families, or learned to add, subtract, multiply, and divide – they need to know when and how to apply these operations.
After you choose the desired grade level (from grades 1 through 7) and purchase the subscription ($59.99 for one year), you have access to your dashboard which shows your subscription and the date it expires. You can also view your assigned product licenses and basic account settings.
We worked with the 4th grade level of Target the Question Digital. The program itself starts with the Problem of the Week screen, with boxes numbered one through forty, one for each week.
It is important to work through this program in order, as each week the problems increase in complexity. Choose a week, and you will see the question and the menu for the week.
At the top of the screen the basic problem is presented, based on every day activities like monetary transactions, or calculating time or distance. Also included is a visual, such as the receipt pictured for Week #23, as the basis for the questions. Others may have a chart, graph, or map to illustrate the Problem of the Week.
I learned a long time ago not to take for granted that my kids understood common terms just because they heard these words on a regular basis. Each Problem of the Week makes a great little vocabulary lesson. For the above question, we talked about the parts of a receipt and the purpose it serves as a record of your transaction. We also noted the way items are described and packaged- as gallons, jars, loaves, by the dozen or the pound.
At the bottom of the screen are the days of the week. Choose the day and a question appears highlighted below the problem graphic.
Another feature of the program is the ability to ‘draw’ on the screen itself, or use the ‘drawing pad’. We used a mouse or touchpad to sketch out the process of finding the solution, or work relevant math problems. Above, on Monday, the question was “What is the cost of 1 gallon of juice?” You can see on the receipt that 4 gallons of juice were purchased for $12, and as we discussed how to solve the problem, we drew it on the virtual pad on screen. We could also use different colors of ink to work out different parts of the problems. It’s a great way to show how to think through a problem step-by-step and discourage guessing.
On Wednesday the question involved working with time, and we examined possible ways to find the solution. You can see how we chose to work out the answer. Then on Friday we again focused on the information we needed for this particular problem.
If you or your student have questions about how to use the Problem of the Week screen, the Help button creates a graphic that shows the purpose of each feature of the menu.
Even though we used Target the Question Digital for the 4th grade level, it was fun to talk about the different scenarios together, or have my older kids coach their younger brother through the various problems presented. Each week became more challenging, with complex problems and situations to work through. Programs like this offer a unique opportunity to evaluate your child’s critical thinking skills in small daily doses that only take about 10-15 minutes to complete. We used it as an opening exercise for school, but it would also serve as a great warm up before using one’s regular math curriculum.
There were a few days that the kids just wanted to keep going and work through the whole week’s problems. When kids say “More!”, I say “Why not?”
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