News & Notes
News & Notes
March 17, 2016
News & Notes
November 22, 2015
We’re thankful for your support—more than 100,000 teachers have signed up for Problem-Attic since its launch! And just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, we’re happy to announce these improvements to the website:
- NY Regents Exams are now up-to-date through August 2015. This includes newer exams for Common Core Algebra 1 and Geometry (Please see note below.) Also, look for a few more Regents samplers in the Play Area.
- Most state assessments are updated through spring 2015. This includes about 2,500 new questions for math and science, organized by test and topic.
- Problem-Attic can now host your PDF Documents, and you can share them with students easily through Google Classroom. This is a great new option for blended learning! For details, click here.
- New option for alternating multiple-choice. That means labeling the answer choices as A..E and F..J, which is the style for many state assessments. (Griddables and various answer space options are coming soon.)
Note: NY Regents Common Core questions are organized by exam only. To view them, go to Create > Select. Then click NY Regents > Mathematics > Exams. When the number of questions gets a little larger, we’ll do a topical organization, i.e., re-group the questions by standard.
October 10, 2015
Problem-Attic has been redesigned! If you just logged in, you probably noticed the main menu and how you started on a new Create page. That’s where you’ll do most of your work now. The sidebar on the left has the Select, Arrange and Format tabs that were previously near the top of the screen.
If you click the tabs on the left, the program will look very familiar. Problem selection is exactly the same as before, and so is the Arrange page (except for a new Scramble button). The Format tab presents the same options as before, but now you access the options by scrolling downward and expanding/collapsing groups of options.
What follows is an overview of the most important changes. For more details, please click here.
- New! Make PDF tab This greatly speeds up document preview, because you see page images before having to download a large file. Simply click the Download button if you’ like what you see, or you can modify your document and click Make PDF to preview again.
- New! Document options bar This appears near the top of the screen when you’re in “Create mode”. It makes switching between documents very fast—you’ll see a drop-down menu with your 5 most recent—and it gives you quick access to a rename, open and new button.
- Your documents home page is now a main menu item called Organize. To see your list of documents, to put them in folders, and to get public links for sharing, click Organize. Once you’re on the page, everything works the same as before.
- The Play Area has been moved to the main menu. If you’re not a subcriber, click Play Area and you’ll go to a special part of Problem-Attic where you can try all the latest technology features. This includes: exporting a quiz to your LMS, posting links to Google classroom, or using QR codes to launch an online test or student answer sheet. More info
- Export and Score. If you are a subscriber, you will see that the two buttons are replaced by tabs in the sidebar. For the Scoring App, there are no changes other than how you access it (by clicking the tab). Export is completely re-done. Now all options are shown on a single page, and they are many new options, including a way to export a quiz to an LMS and post document links directly to Google Classroom. More info
We hope you like Problem-Attic’s new look and it makes the creation of documents faster and easier than ever. As always, your feedback is welcome. Please send comments or suggestions to email@example.com.
Our last big update for the school year includes two new state frameworks (Virginia and Oklahoma), ACT math, NY Regents exams for Algebra 1 (Common Core), and much improved delivery of problem thumbnails for faster and easier problem selection. Here is more information:
- New state frameworks. These are for the Virginia SOLs and Oklahoma PASS. The questions are all original, cover grades 1–8 and high school, and have similar design highlights as our databases for Common Core and Texas. That is, the questions are paired for easy pre- and post-testing, review worksheets and makeup tests; carefully arranged by order of difficulty; rich with interesting scenarios and real-life data; and useful for both instruction and assessment. Click a link for VA or OK for samples and a breakdown of number of questions by standard.
- ACT math. This database has all original questions, about 3200, for the ACT. While nominally a college admissions test, the ACT is actually curriculum based (unlike the SAT), so it’s very easy to integrate the questions into regular instruction. The database covers topics from pre-algebra through trigonometry, so roughly speaking it serves grades 7 through 12. There are excellent non-routine questions that you assign not just for test prep. but for challenge and extra credit, extending ideas, and generally helping all students become “college ready”. To see a table of contents and 60 sample questions, click here.
- NY Regents Algebra 1 (Common Core). You’ll find the three exams from June and August 2014
and January 2015 if you go to the main selection screen and click
NY Regents Math > Exams > Alg1 CC. Note: the
fastest way to reach the main selection screen from anywhere in
Problem-Attic is to click the little open book icon near the
top-right. Also, as a shortcut to browsing and adding each
problem to a document, you can click the following three links to
open a complete exam with all problems already selected:
Jun 2014 Aug 2014 Jan 2015
If you want to know how we created the above links, please click here and read about document sharing, a Problem-Attic feature released last December.
- Faster thumbnail delivery. If you use Problem-Attic regularly, you may have noticed a few weeks ago that thumbnails, which are used for problem selection, get delivered much faster to your browser. A side benefit is that we were able to eliminate nearly all pagination of the Select pages. Now, for more than 90% of all topics or standards, you’ll never have to click ‘next’ when viewing thumbnails. This makes the process of selecting problems both faster and easier, because you can skim through 50, 60 or more all at once.
The new Regents exam questions are free, as always. Document sharing is also a free feature in Problem-Attic, and you should try it if you haven’t already. There are many uses, including for curriculum development.
The new ACT, Virginia and Oklahoma are for school
subscribers only. If you’d like more information
about subscribing, click the following links.
Compare options School-wide benefit Subscription steps
Note: if you’d like to be sent a price quote, you can follow the same steps as for subscribing.
Fun stuff for the holidays! (Or toys for teachers?) Here’s what just got added to Problem-Attic:
- 6,500 more questions—free—for a total of more than 105,000. Five states updated. NAEP now has 2000 social studies questions. Great tasks published for PISA and UDAC assessments. And in Hidden Treasures, more sample questions from past curriculum frameworks.
- New document sharing option, designed for common assessments, curriculum development, posting links to interesting problems, blogs, and more! Instructions and ideas for using the feature are here.
- Texas math database—20,000 questions for the newest TEKS. Click here for information.
Five big changes to Problem-Attic this month!
1. Common Core math for middle and high school is significantly enlarged and updated. This follows a similar update for grades 1–5 which we posted last spring. Approximately 1500 new problems were added for grades 6–8 and high school, and another thousand or so were edited to raise the level of difficulty or tighten the alignment.
The CCSS math database now has more than 25,000 questions. Approximately 25% are free-response or multi-step questions or tasks. In case you didn’t know, with one of Problem-Attic’s subscription options, you can hide choices and convert about two-thirds of the remaining questions into free-response. For more information about CCSS math, click here. For subscription details, click here.
2. The Play Area now contains 2500 sample questions. We added a substantial number from CCSS math—three or four complete standards per grade—so you can do a thorough evaluation before subscribing. And you can use the questions for real classroom purposes, along with with Problem-Attic’s outstanding technology features. If you never exported a slideshow or made an online test, please try it now.
3. New York Regents updated through June, 2014. The database has 1400 more questions from 25 exams. As always, they are organized by topic and source document and are freely available just by signing up for Problem-Attic. Note: if you are a subscriber, please try to the Sort button that appears above problem thumbnails. When viewing topics, you can change the reverse the order so that newest problems are at the beginning.
4. NEW! Problems per page option and more control over workspace. Now you can specify a maximum number of problems per page on a test or worksheet. Look for the option after going to Format and clicking Template (see figure below). This is a great way to spread problems out for students with special needs or when you want to provide more space for showing work. Please note that the actual number of problems per page may be less than the maximum, depending on what fits. The option called ‘Auto’ means no maximum (include as many problems per page as possible).
Another way to control spacing is through the new workspace value. Previously it was possible to tell Problem-Attic only to include or not include space for students to show their work. Now you can specify the amount of space (Format page, test/worksheet template). The allowed range is 0.2 to 4 inches. Please note: this puts space below all problems in your document. If you want to adjust space on a problem-by-problem basis, that option is available to subscribers. To learn more about workspace and problem overrides, click here.
5. NEW! Multiple choice layout that is optimized vertically. Previously, if you wanted answers in columns, they were labeled across, then down. Now the labeling can be done in true vertical columns, as on NY Regents Exams (see figure below). Please note that optimization measures choices and puts them in columns only if they fit. Choose the option called ‘Vertical’ to force them into a single column.
If you signed up for Problem-Attic recently and missed our New
Feature announcements, please see these PDF documents:
They describe other updates to Common Core math, Add/Filter/Sort buttons, improvements to the Scoring App, problem overrides, and much more!
Apr 25th, 2014
Common Core math for primary grades. We added more than 1700 questions for grades 1 and 2. Roughly one-third are performance tasks and open-ended questions. The rest are multiple-choice, although in most cases they can converted to free-response. In case you didn’t know, the conversion is done by hiding choices. For instructions, see New Feature links below.
Revision of CCSS math for grades 3–5. We’ve continued adding high-level, multi-step questions to the database. In this update, there are about 600 new or re-written questions. Also, we’ve improved a few dozen graphics, re-aligned some questions which we felt were in the wrong place, and cut a small number. (If you selected any questions that were cut, don’t worry, they’re still in your documents.)
Note: Common Core math is available to subscribers only. Click here to learn about school-wide subscriptions,
11 states updated. We added more than 5300 questions to state assessments in Problem-Attic, bringing about half of them current through 2013. But don’t be misled by the term assessments. Many of the questions come from curriculum documents, including some updated for Common Core. Also, a lot of the new assessment questions are multi-step or open-ended, and a good number are performance tasks. (To view the newest questions first, go to Topics and click the Sort button. For more information about the Sort, Filter and Add buttons, see New Features links below.)
As always, there is no charge for accessing the released questions from states, NY Regents, NAEP/TIMSS, academic competitions and “hidden treasures”. With this most recent update, there are now more than 105,000 FREE questions in Problem-Attic!
Mar 16th, 2014
Problem-Attic’s main Select page has grown to 9 panels. The 3 new panels are titled:
My Database – This is a wonderful new feature that turns your saved documents into a fully customized database (or item bank). It’s totally automatic! If you are a subscriber, simply click on the panel and use the questions like any others in Problem-Attic.
Additional Math Courses – We’ve added more than 5000 questions for AP Calculus and SAT math prep. for school subscribers. Another 15,000 questions are coming soon as a supplement for middle and high school courses (pre-algebra, algebra and geometry).
Hidden Treasures – This panel has categories of questions that are very useful for instruction and assessment but don’nt quite fit anywhere else. They are available to everyone: 1000 quantitative comparison questions and an excellent example of a math curriculum framework. Please check out the questions and return often, as we’re uncovering many more treasures in the attic!
The new panels are described in detail, along with screenshots and helpful hints, in a PDF document called New features Mar. 2014. The document includes ideas for creating your own database module and using the quantitive comparison questions. (Please don’t overlook those questions. They are a great way to engage students and integrate learning and classroom technology.)
You can also get information on the main Select page. As a shortcut, click the small open book (browse icon) near the top-right of the screen. Then click an “info” link on one of the new panels.
Nov 25th, 2013
Highlights for this month include:
Common Core math revision. About 3000 new or edited questions, more real-life scenarios, re-drawn pictures and better pairing of free-response.
Sort button for CCSS math. This puts more difficult questions (typically multi-step and free-response) at the top of the Select pages.
Scoring App has more options for free-response. You can override the automatic scoring and mark answers correct/incorrect for individual questions or students.
Two new fonts called Century and Fortuna. These are look-alikes for New Century Schoolbook and Verdana (which are trademark names of Microsoft and Linotype GmbH).
The changes are described in detail, along with screenshots and helpful hints, in a PDF document called New features Nov. 2013. The last three pages of the document show some of our newer questions for Common Core math. Please check them out.
Oct 22nd, 2013
Today we made several small improvements to Problem-Attic and two big ones: we added document folders and redesigned the Scoring App. Probably you noticed the folders already on your home page. If you’re a subscriber and you’ve never used the Scoring App or made an online test, please don’t wait any longer. You’ll find these features to be even more flexible, convenient and useful.
Complete instructions for document folders and the Scoring App are provided in this PDF file.
Also today we are happy to announce some new content, our first annual update to Problem-Attic. The NY Regents database is now current through June 2013. We added about 1500 questions from 26 math, science, social studies and English exams. As before, the questions are organized by exam and topic.
The Regents update gave rise to one other program improvement, a Sort button. Until now, all problems from multiple years’ of assessments (or contests) were arranged in chronological order from oldest in newest. Now on certain select pages you can show the newest problems at the top. Look for the Up/Down arrow icon. Click it to reverse the sort order.
Note: The Sort button shows up only when selecting problems by topic and only for NY Regents Exams and Math Contests. Later the button will be added to Common Core Math pages, for sorting by level of difficulty. We’re working on something similar for state assessments, and we’ll soon be updating them all through Spring/Summer 2013.
Sep 23rd, 2013
New Filter and Add buttons. If you’re a subscriber to Problem-Attic, you’ll see these new options when selecting problems.
With the Filter button, you can decide whether to preview only multiple-choice or free-response questions, odds or evens, or questions that you’ve not selected previously on any other document.
With the Add button, you can instantly pull all questions from a released test, topic or objective into your document, or certain number at random—a great time-saver!
Please see this PDF document for much more information about filters and problem selection.
Sep 16th, 2013
New format option (for subscribers): hide multiple-choice answers. This effectively converts about 60% of all multiple-choice questions in Problem-Attic into free response—automatically!
The option to hide choices shows up in two places: on the Format page (a document-wide setting) and on the Arrange page (problem-by-problem). Please see this PDF document for instructions on hiding choices and an explanation of when it can be done.
There are other new options related to formatting and problem properties: you can force individual problems to span the width of the page on a two-column document, type in your own objectives for problems, and force a problem to start on a new page. See the above PDF document for more information.
Sep 10th, 2013
We combined the original Common Core math database with the free-response supplement. Now all types of questions are in one place: multiple-choice, multi-step, tasks, etc. Over the next few months we’ll work on the ordering from least to most difficult and on the pairing, so that you’ll always find two questions in-a-row that are similar.
You’ll also notice that we abbreviated the Common Core math standards on all selection pages. This makes it much easier to skim through the standards and find what you’re looking for. To see a full written-out standard, hover over the abbreviated link for a second or two.
Aug 9th, 2013
After surveying Problem-Attic users, we decided to keep all program features consistent between individual and school subscriptions. Thus the Common Core Math supplement described and export options for slideshows and online tests are now available under the basic (monthly) subscription plan. More details are here.
Note: If you’re a individual subscriber, please respect the Terms of Service and use the additional content and features only for yourself and students under your direct supervision.
We continue to improve the free part of Problem-Attic also. On the Format page, you will notice new options that are available to everyone:
Memo. This is an optional field for typing directions, notes to students, or other text that you want to appear below the header on the first page. It shows up on test and worksheet layouts only (not flash cards or overheads).
Max choices. This option is for multiple-choice problems only. It sets a maximum for the number of choices that appear on a document. This may be helpful if selecting problems from multiple sources, where the total varies, or for reducing the total to 3 for younger students or for test accommodations. The default is set at 4. Note: raising the maximum won’t increase the number of choices if they’re not already written into a problem. Also, choices are not ranked, so the hiding of choices is done in a pseudo-random way. Correct choices are not hidden, of course. Lastly, some questions don’t make sense with their choices hidden. We’ve done our best to flag those questions to prevent it from happening. Please let us know if we missed any.
Paper size and margins. Many users requested support for legal-size paper to cut down on copy costs. The option is now in Problem-Attic, along with customizable margins. Look for the new Page Setup tab.
One other little improvement, which may help with problem selection: you can now jump to the main Select page (with the six large panels) anywhere in Problem-Attic. Look for the open book icon at the top of your browser window. Next to it is Help and Home, which takes you to your Documents home page. By the way, here’s a neat trick for problem selection: if you’re at the bottom of a long page of thumbnails, press Home on your keyboard to return to the top of the page. This trick works in most modern browsers.
Jul 3rd, 2013
Over 5000 new mostly multi-step and open-ended questions have been added to Common Core Math.
Our Content Creation team has been working hard to develop interesting and challenging questions. With these recent additions, we now make more than 22,500 Common Core Math questions available to subscribers.
Did you know that questions in Problem-Attic are paired? Later this summer we will be adding additional filtering options to Problem-Attic. Subscribers will be able to show only odd or even problems or hide problems already used in other documents.
Jun 3rd, 2013
Online testing and slideshow export is ready to try in the Play Area.
Please check out these new features. We think you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to turn the problems you choose into a fully interactive, web-based test. Or if you prefer, create a slideshow and use it with the scoring app, presentation-style.
Something else that will be a great surprise: you can export and download problems for PowerPoint or most common whiteboard formats, such as SMART, Promethean and IWB. The native files are ready-to-use with student response systems! See samples.
Our Online Testing and Interactive Slideshows guide has more details.
We expanded the Play Area with about 600 problems from NY Regents Samplers. This makes available math, science and social studies problems to use with the editor, scoring app, and new export features.
May 22nd, 2013
School-wide subscriptions are now available for Problem-Attic! Now an entire school can benefit from what’s been available only to single-user subscribers.
School subscribers also get a lot of additional content, such as 4000 alternative assessment questions for Common Core Math, our new online testing option, and a very cool export feature that creates slideshows for interactive whiteboards (see below).
The school subscription price is $995. This covers all of the 2014–2015 school year and allows up to 60 teacher accounts. More details...
May 17th, 2013
We are happy to welcome five more states to Problem-Attic: Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Jersey and Ohio. You’ll find the tests (about 200) and released questions (more than 4600) in the state assessment area.
The total number of states now represented in Problem-Attic is 23, or 24 if you include NY Regents. We hope to add four or five more states by mid-summer.
We also added approximately 1700 questions from the UNC Charlotte HS Math Competition. These are excellent not just for “mathletes”, but for enriching the curriculum and teaching problem-solving skills.
All of this new content is freely available.
Scaling is significantly improved for overheads and flashcards. Now you can choose nearly any question and it will be reduced to fit in the available space. Of course, many questions may be reduced so much that you don’t like their appearance, and some can’t be reduced enough. (We set a limit at about 50% of original size.) If that happens, please select a different question or change the document template.
To save paper and improve the look of tests/worksheets, we made small changes to headers, footers and page margins. Now the header shows up on the first page only. The footer contains the page number and, after the first page, the document title and custom field #1.
The problem editor has been improved in many ways, mostly having to do with differences in web browsers. One notable bugfix: table column widths are properly read in from the data. IE8 works better, but we strongly recommend upgrading for best results in Problem-Attic.
Problem-Attic now includes 17,500 questions for Common Core math. These are available by subscription, along with an online editor and scoring app. You can get details or try out the new features in the Play Area. All of the released test questions and academic competitions are free and will remain so.
On your document home page, you’ll notice a new Browse button. This allows you to navigate through the database without any document being open. If you want to start a new document while browsing, simply click on a problem and you’ll be prompted for a title.
Please note: there’s a new pull-down menu for account settings at the top of the page. Also, Problem-Attic has a brand-new landing page, which introduces the subscription option. Go through door and you’ll see sample documents, details about Common Core math, homespun icons, even videos!