TOS Review: CTCMath

CTCMathEveryone has those subjects they just love, and also those that, well, they don’t like so much. For me, the not-so-much subject has always been math. Fortunately, my youngest likes math a lot more than I do,  but he finds it easier to learn it from someone who is not me.  I am always on the lookout for programs I can use so he can learn at his own pace, and I was happy to check out a single student membership from CTCMath for this review.

CTC offers a wide range of math programs, from elementary to the high school level. For this review, my son, who is a high school junior, tried out their Algebra 2 program. This class is divided into three sections, each one sub-divided into topics like solving linear equations, polynomials, rational expressions, and more. Lessons consist of a video of math problems being solved narrated by an instructor who explains each step. My son preferred this to a video that showed an actual teacher working on a board, because he said it made it easier to focus on the problems themselves. The narrator speaks very clearly and at a good pace, and my son enjoyed his accent!

CTCMathAfter watching the video, students can then complete a worksheet that gives them a chance to practice what they learned. They can do the work on paper or you can print out a copy of the sheet for them to work on. Students type their answers into CTC and it tells them how many they got right. Students can make multiple attempts on the worksheets and even go back to watch the video again if they want. Afterwards, students can then view complete worked out solutions for the problems if they can’t figure something out. I can’t tell you how much I love this feature! Having the problems worked out step by step really helped us identify where my son made a mistake. Often, you will get an answer key with the simple answer, but that doesn’t help much once you get into upper level math, so this is a part that I really appreciate.

The results tab lists the scores for each lessons, the numbers of attempts made at each lesson, and the date the lesson was passed. This makes it very easy to track your child’s progress. For parents, CTC allows you to log in and set tasks for your child to complete. These tasks will appear under the “tasks” tabs on your child’s page. You can set a date for completion and you get notifications if tasks are not done on time. In addition, you get weekly emails with reports on your child’s activity for the week. These are really helpful if you’re in a busy season and can’t be on top of your child every day because you can easily see if your child is on track.

CTCMathAdditional features I really like about CTCMath include their speed drills, where kids can practice math facts, and their diagnostic tests. You can assign these and use them to determine what things your child really needs to focus on. On the whole, I think CTC is a very solid math program and a great help for parents who want to give their kids more independence. In addition to single-student memberships, CTC also offers family memberships and they allow you to do a free trial so you can check it out first! If you are interested, you should check out their special pricing which runs from now until 11/15/17 which gives you a discount of 60 percent off!

To learn more, connect with CTC on social media here:

CTCMath on Facebook

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To see what other members of the crew thought of this program, click here:

 

CTCMath Online Math Tutoring {Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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TOS Review: Captain Bayley’s Heir (Heirloom Audio Productions)

Heirloom Audio Productions Have you ever wanted to travel to the Wild Wild West? Did you ever wonder what it was like to travel to unsettled areas and deal with the adventures you would find there? If you have, you definitely want to check out this review of Captain Bayley’s Heir from Heirloom Audio Productions, because it will take you right there!

Captain Bayley's HeirFirst, let me say, we have reviewed for Heirloom before and are always pleased with what they have to offer. In fact, I have a few expectations now whenever I get to listen to their audiodramas: 1. a stellar cast: Yes, they have amazing talent for all of their stories. From Brian Blessed, who features on the majority of their recordings, to others like Jade Williams and Ian Porter, you are getting a top-notch performance from everyone! These people really seem to LIVE their characters, which helps you get totally lost in the story. 2. Amazing soundtrack/sound effects: whoever does the sound recordings for Heirloom should be commended! Their sound effects/music/etc are always on point and perfectly suited to whatever is happening in the story. Like, if you close your eyes, you really feel like you are there!

So, without giving too much away, this particular story, based on a classic GA Henty novel, features the story of Frank, an English lad falsely accused of theft when it comes to his inheritance. He flees to America to escape the charges and encounters the Captain on his journey. In addition, he travels across the country in the heart of the Gold Rush, ecountering raids, stagecoach robberies, buffalo and more along the way. Of course, he alos encounters the Lord and learns a lot along the way.

So, why do we love Captain Bayley (and the other audiodramas from Heirloom) so much?
Mainly because it is pure, wholesome family entertainment. You can listen to this with kids of all ages (the first one of these I reviewd, I think my youngest was 11, now he’s 16) and never have to worry about what is going to be said. We enjoy saving the CDs for road trips when we can all listen together, but you can also put them in a CD player at the house. The chapters are conviently divided, so it is easy to pick up right where you left off each day!

Also, these audiodramas are just plain exciting! I have two boys who are now older teenagers and they have spent many years listening to these, and they always find them entertaining. As a homeschool mom, I appreciate the historical content, because I can see how you could easily use this story as part of a larger unit study/history study if you wanted too.

In additon to the CDs, you also gain access to bonus content which includes a study guide. I always enjoy these study guides, because even though we primarily use the audiodramas from Heirloom for entertainment, I still like to know my kids are getting something else from listening, you know? The study guide includes discussion questions from each chapter which range from basic recall to questions that require a lot of synthesizing information and drawing conclusions. We use these strictly for discussion, but you could absolutely have older students write their answers to them if you wanted.

Helpful vocabulary and background information is also included as well as Bible studies related to the story. On the whole, the study guides help take Captain Bayley from an exciting audiodrama to a real teaching tool. If you want to access the extra materials you need to sign up for the Live the Adventure Club which is a new feature Heirloom offers that allows you to connect with other people listening to the same story you are, gain access to extras and more. I know, sometimes you don’t want to sign up for one more thing, and to be honest, I get that, but it’s worth it.

In short, we totally enjoyed this product! To learn more, connect with Heirloom Audio on social media here:

Heirloom Audio on Facebook

Heirloom Audio on Twitter

Heirloom Audio on Instagram

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Captain Bayley's Heir {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 

TOS Review: Apologia Marine Biology

Apologia Educational MinistriesOne of the things I find complicated about teaching high school is getting in all the elective credits. Sometimes it can be difficult to find interesting courses to fill those needs for your child. However, I do have a kid who loves the ocean, so the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage set with the Audio CD from Apologia Educational Ministries seemed like a good fit for us!

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage SetThe Advantage set itself comes with the student textbook, notebook, and tests and answer keys. We loved the full-color textbook which has a great layout on each page. The pictures/charts/diagrams etc help break up the text, which is great for my son who has trouble focusing when there is nothing but words on the page. This program features 16 modules on topics like: Life in the Sea, Marine Invertebrates, Marine Ecology, Coral Reefs, and much more.

Each chapter includes a few experiments that can pretty much be completed with things you have at home. I like this feature since purchasing a lot of very specific items for labs is often expensive. Directions are clear and easy to follow, meaning you can easily do the labs even if you do not have a lot of science experience. There are questions sprinkled throughout the chapter that help students articulate what they are learning, and each chapter features a review at the end that your child can complete before they take the test.

Apologia Marine Biology is a creation-based program, which I like, and interspersed in the chapter are sections called “Creation Connection” which links what is being learned in the chapter to evidence for creation. If you did not want to focus on this, you could skip this part, but I felt it led to very good discussions between my son and I and helped him sharpen his viewpoint on creation in general.

The appendices offer a glossary, additional study guides, and a list of required lab materials. Basically, my son and I would work our way through the chapter, with him doing the reading and answering the questions, and when we got to the end of the chapter, he would complete his review and take the test. If he did not do well on the test I would have him go back and complete the additional study guide for that chapter.

One thing that helped him complete the reading on his own is the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD. Read by Marissa Leinart, the CD offers a complete word-by-word reading of each chapter. This is great for reluctant readers like my son who are often intimidated by the sheer amount of reading in a textbook. Ms. Leinart reads at a comfortable, steady pace with appropriate volume and inflection so kids don’t get bored. The CD also offers and introduction and student notes section as well. It is important to note that this is an MP3 CD so you will need a compatible device to use it.

Marine Biology 2nd Ed Audio CDAnother really good part of the Advantage set is the student notebook. Seriously, I cannot stress enough how, whenever you get any Apologia program you should ALWAYS purchase the student notebook. It is so worth it! First of all, the notebook includes a daily schedule with reading/labs/questions all spelled out for you, which is in itself a huge bonus! The notebook also includes all the questions in the chapter, so your child has one place to record all their answers and you aren’t chasing papers around. Lab forms and chapter reviews are also included, so you really don’t need to purchase additional notebooks/binders etc. There is plenty of room for students to write and take notes too.

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage SetThe test book and answer key are also a great component of the program. By high school, kids need to get used to taking tests and I don’t want to have to make them up on my own, it’s just additional work I don’t need. A complete answer key makes it easy for me to grade everything at a glance, so I know if we need further discussion or study on a topic or if we can just move on.

Altogether, we thought Marine Biology was great, and for less than $100 for the main set, it also has a great price! To learn more, connect with Apologia on social media here:

Apologia on Facebook

Apologia on Instagram

Apologia on Twitter

Apologia on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew thought of this program, click here:

 

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions (In the Reign of Terror)

Heirloom Audio ProductionsIn summer, we do a lot of road trips, and I love having audiobooks to listen to in the car as we drive. It’s a great way to keep our whole family entertained! For this review, we got to check out In the Reign of Terror, the latest offering from Heirloom Audio Productions. We have reviewed several of Heirloom’s audiodramas before, and we are never disappointed. Based on novels by GA Henty, the stories are always full of adventure and excitement that keeps my boys on the edge of their seats, and this new one was no different!

In the Reign of TerrorSet against the backdrop of the French Revolution, the story is the perfect mix of history and drama. It tells the story of a young man named Harry, who is caught up in the events of the revolution, trying to save an aristocratic Christian family from execution. The cast, as always, is stellar, with Brian Blessed leading as Henty himself. Rounding out the ensemble are actors like John Rhys-Davies from movies like The Lord of the Rings, and Cathy Sara from Downtown Abbey.

The cast does an amazing job of bringing the characters to life, infusing them with passion and vibrance. You really connect with each one, and find yourself anxiously waiting to see what happens to each person. A 2 CD set, In the Reign of Terror offers over two hours of entertainment, broken into sections that easily allow you to pick up wherever you left off. This feature is especially convenient if you listen to it on a day when you have to run a lot of errands.

Heirloom audio always seems to product top-notch products, complete with background music and sound effects that draw you even deeper into the story. You find yourself automatically rooting for Harry and waiting on pins and needles as each new chapter develops.

In addition to the audiobook, you also get access to a downloadable study guide. This guide features questions for each chapter in the story. The questions range from recall questions that make sure students listened and remember what happened, to vocabulary and questions that require listeners to dig deeper and make connections between events and draw conclusions, make inferences and other higher-order thinking skills. We usually discuss these questions orally after each section, leading to a lot of family discussion. The guide wraps up with three Bible stories that connect with the Biblical themes related in the story. If you would like to use this audiodrama as part of a unit study, Heirloom also offers a reading list with books about the French Revolution in the study guide, which would be especially useful for older students.

Users also have the option of joining the Live the Adventure Club, an online community that Heirloom just started. If you sign up, you not only gain access to the downloadable extras, but you can also participate in discussion boards about the books, access quizzes on the audiobooks, and have your kids play games and find lots of other things to do to further explore the adventure!

We thoroughly enjoyed In the Reign of terror and are looking forward to Heirloom’s next adventure! To learn more, connect with them on social media here:

Heirloom Audio on Facebook

Heirloom Audio on Twitter

Heirloom Audio on Google+

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, click here:

 

In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Fascinating Education (Fascinating Biology)

Fascinating EducationAll kids learn differently, and one of the great things about homeschooling is how you can customize your child’s education to meet their needs. So, one of my kids is a fantastic book-learner. You can just hand him a textbook, tell him where to start, and send him on his way. My other one, however, really struggles with textbooks. Too many words on a page, too big, too intimidating etc. So, I have learned to find alternate methods of teaching for him, including online learning. For this review, we got to check out Fascinating Biology from Fascinating Education.

Fascinating  PhysicsThe course consists of 18 lessons that include topics like energy, nutrients, reproduction, adaptations, plants, and more. Each lesson offers a narrated power-point style video with a navigation bar on the side. I really appreciated this part because it was easy to break the lessons up if you wanted (for kids like mine with a short attention span) and pick up right where you left off. If you have a child who is not an audio/visual learner, Fascinating Education also gives you a word-by-word script of the lessonn with the pictures included so your child could read the lesson instead. These are also handy for reviewing before taking the tests.

biology 1

The tests are basically quizzes that review the information in the lesson with multiple choice questions. Students receive their grade immediately and if they did not do well, they are given the chance to review the test and retake it. I really really like the review part, because that is what I would have my son do anyway if he had trouble with a test in any subject. I think giving your kids a chance to review where they went wrong helps them learn the correct information and then they can retake the test afterwards. You can also print PDFs of the tests if you prefer to use paper and pencil.

biology 3

As far as how we used Fascinating Biology, it was pretty easy. I would look at the lesson for the week and decide how much my son would do each day. One thing to know about this program is that some lessons can be long (45 minutes). If you have a child who can focus on a presentation for that long, then you’re fine. If not, you can break it into sections using the menu like I did. My son usually did at least three sections per day, depending on the rest of our schedule. It will probably take us a little longer to complete it that way, but I don’t mind. I’m more concerned about making sure he really understands the information.

biology 2

After each lesson, we would talk about what he learned, and I could use the script at this point to follow along and make sure he knew what he was talking about. The tab on the side also includes a glossary of terms that you could use to have your child keep a biology vocabulary notebook if you wanted. Once he finished an entire lesson, we would review the key terms and then he would take the test. If he did well, we would move on, if not, I always had him review the test and also the script to go over those concepts that he missed. If you want, you can also print the tests, which will give you the score, and list of questions which tell you which ones your child got right and which ones they got wrong.

One thing to note, the program at this point does not save test scores, nor do they keep running grades, so you will have to keep track of that yourself. Also, while some of the tests include questions from multiple lessons, there are no formal mid-term or final exams. Since Fascinating Education has made some changes to their programs, there have been a few technichal issues with sound and things like that, but I didn’t really feel that was a big issue. Their team is very responsive and works hard to resolve problems quickly, and I find it is not uncommon to run into hiccups when using computer-based programs in general.

I feel like Fascinating Biology is a great overview of a biology course. After trying and trying to get my son through a traditional textbook course, I was really happy to find something that worked well for him. I think he is getting a fantastic grasp of biology concepts, and will have a great foundation to move on from.

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, and the others we got to check out, click here:

Biology, Chemistry & Physics {Fascinating Education Reviews}

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TOS Review: Hewitt Homeschooling (American Lit)

Hewitt Homeschooling

I love literature! Reading has always been one of my favorite things, and I love sharing books with my kids. I am always on the lookout for good literature programs for my son, especially now that he is older. For this review, we got to check out the American: Early-Mid 19th Century literature program from Hewitt Homeschooling. This program is aimed at highschool freshman and sophomores. I used it with my 10th grade son.

 Lightning Literature and Composition Pack
American: Early to Mid 19th Century

Early-Mid American Lit is the first part of Hewitt’s American Literature program, with a second book, Mid-Late 19th Century, that follows. You can choose to either use one set each semester, or spread out one book over an entire year. For my son, the slower option is better as reading is not his favorite subject and requires a lot more effort from him. The course consists of a student book and a teacher’s guide.

The teacher’s guide includes suggested schedules for a one-semester and full-year course, which makes it easy for you to set up the course. I will tell you that the one-semester schedule is very heavy on the weekly reading, which is why we opted to go with the full-year course. It ended up being too much for son to do in a week along with his other subjects. The guide also includes rubrics to use for grading, checklists for writing assignments, and answers to the questions in the student book.

The course itself consists of four units, with two lessons per unit. Students read a mix of classic novels (which you can easily find online or at the library) as well as poems and short stories that are included in the student book. Some of the authors covered in the Early-Mid American Lit book are Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Longfellow.

I had my son start with the introduction, which gives background on literature in general, writing tips, and information about how to use the guide. Since the course is pretty student oriented, I wanted to really go over this part since I knew he would mostly be using it on his own. The first unit begins with the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. This section does use a very specific edition of the book which I was able to find online. We broke the reading into weekly assignments, based on how the guide set up the questions, and my son would read each day, then complete the questions in his notebook. In general, we got to about 3 sets of questions per week.

I felt the questions themselves were a good mix of direct recall and questions that caused students to think and synthesize things in the text, and were appropriate for high schoolers. After completing all of the reading there was a lesson about autobiographical writing. We read through and discussed this section together, then I had my son choose one of the writing assignments at the end of the unit. I liked the variety of options students had for their writing assignments, with choices that range from simple to more complex and serious to humorous. I feel like my son is much more motivated when he gets to choose an assignment, and it leads to less conflict between us.

 

The second lesson in Unit 1 moves onto Washington Irving. It included a fun short story written by Irving that my son read in the text with a series of short comprehension questions after. I felt like this was a good way to break things up so they don’t feel monotonous. Students get to read full novels, but also get breaks and are able to read shorter works as well.

All in all, the Early-Mid American Lit course is a solid program. It offers a a wide variety of classic literature to your children in an easy-to-use design. You can literally just read the introduction to the course and get started! Also, this program comes as either a student book and teacher’s guide or a full set that includes all the necessary novels, which allows you to choose what fits your budget.

To learn more, connect with Hewitt on social media here:

Hewitt Homeschooling on Facebook

Hewitt Homeschooling on Twitter

Hewitt Homeschooling on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this program and the others we got to check out, click here:

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}

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TOS Review: Novare Science & Math

Novare Science & MathSo, how do you feel about high school science? I’ll be honest, when I was in school I loved my English and writing classes, but math and science, not so much. So, teaching upper level science is one of those things that kind of gives me some anxiety. I’ve tried many different courses with my boys, and to be honest, they all stress me out a little. For this review, I got to check out General Chemistry from Novare Science & Math, and I think I may have found something that will work for us!

Novare General ChemistryFirst of all, this is a very complete Chemistry program aimed at students in 11th grade. This is because they need to either have completed, or be working through, Algebra 2 in order to do the math in the program. My son (a junior) is working on Algebra 2 right now, and he didn’t have any problems with the math (at least so far).  General Chemistry, wirtten by John D. Mays, is a faith-based science program, which I appreciate. Mays himself is a Christian and a scientist and does not believe the two need to be mutually exclusive, which I agree with.

The textbook itself is really well done and is definitely a book that will last a long time, in case you have upcoming students you want to use it with. It consists of 12 chapters with topics like isotopes, molecular structure, metallic bonding, dissolution and more. The philosophy behind Novare’s programs really focuses on student mastery of the concepts they learn. This means students will dig in-depth on their topics, and also repeat previously learned topics on reviews to make sure they really engage with the information and retain it for the future.

Each chapter in the color textbook begins with objectives which the students are supposed to read and use as goals for each chapter. The idea is that by the time they finish the chapter they will have mastered each objective. Chapters are broken into sections, which does make it easier to set up a schedule for the week. The text itself is well-written and easy to follow. Since the sections are small, my son didn’t feel to anxious about digging into it (large textbooks with tons of reading intimidate him). All of the math computations are fully explained, with examples, so students get a chance to really practice what they are learning.

At the end of each chapter students complete their chapter exercises, and these are again divided by section, which makes it easy for your child to go back to a specific place in the chapter to review concepts as needed. In addition to the textbook, the General Chemistry Resource CD includes chapter tests and quizzes, solutions for problems, and mid-term and final exams. Each chapter has at least two quizzes to give students a chance to test themselves on their own knowledge before moving onto the chapter test.

To complete the course, you can also get the Chemistry Experiments book which is definitely on my list of things to purchase as we move forward. This particular edition is designed for homeschoolers and includes experiments that are easier to perform at home rather than in a lab setting. Doing experiments is a big part of high school math, and if you’re like me, you definitely need a guide to make those happen!

So, what did we think of this chemistry program from Novare Science & Math? We really liked it. I appreciated how easy it was to use and my son didn’t feel it was boring or too difficult to understand. Basically, I would look at each chapter and divide the workload up over 1-2 weeks. For weeks that included a lot more math we might work at a slower pace becuase I wanted to make sure my son really understood what he was doing. Other weeks, we might go a little faster. I liked having the multiple quizzes because I would have my son take them and then go back and correct his mistakes before using them as a study guide for the test.

At this age, I feel testing is important, as it is something kids will need to be more and more familiar with as they get older. Also, having the tests and exams ready to go made it much easier for me to assign grades and keep up with my son’s progress. As far as the math goes, that is another area I am not really fluent in, however, the computations in this program are really well-explained and with the solutions it was even possible for me to follow!

The price for the Chemistry materials varies depending on what you get, but with the textbook and resource CD coming in at less than $120 I think it’s a great deal! To learn more, connect with Novare on social media here:

Novare Science & Math on Facebook

Novare Science & Math on Pinterest

Novare Science & Math on Instagram

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this program and the others we go to check out, click here:

Biblical Based Science {Novare Science & Math Reviews}Crew Disclaimer