TOS Review: UnLock Math

UnLock MathAs we move through high school, the math gets harder and harder, at least for me. So I love using some type of computer-based program to teach those courses to take some of the pressure off. For this review, we got to try an online program from UnLock Math. My son is a rising junior and we checked out their UnLock Algebra2.

UnLock MathOne of the things that I really like about this program is how complete it is. It features video leasson, testing, and automated grading, which just makes my life so much easier! The lessons are taught by real teachers and you get plenty of practice as well as access to complete solutions for the problem sets, which was helpful to me if I needed to go over something with my son.

UnLock MathAlgebra2 has 15 units with topics ranging from polynomials, to quadratic functions, to statistics and matrices. It also includes mid-term and final exams. The program is very simple to use, especially for any kid familiar with computers. As a parent, you set up your account and add your student and they get their own log in info. When you log in you can check their progress and you can also view the program from the student’s dashboard, in case you want to see what they’re doing.

UnLock MathUnits consist of multiple lessons which also include reviews of previous lessons. I like this method of teaching because even though students move on from a topic, they still practice the concept, which helps them retain it. Quizzes and tests are built in to each unit as well. Lessons begin with a short warm-up before students watch the video lesson. The videos are (thankfully) short, so this works well for kids with short attention spans. I also want to mention that the teachers in the videos are lively and engaged, something that is really important to my son. We have done online/computer-based classes before where the teacher drones on in a monotone voice and he quickly loses interest.

After watching the video, students complete a set of practice problems. There are about 10 problems per set and there are a few different sets, so they get plenty of practice options. Each lesson also includes a set of reference notes, which is a short summary of the lesson, complete with important vocabulary. These were very helpful and I printed them out to use them as study guides for my son for the exams.

The dashboard page also features handy graphics that allow students to track their own progress, which was a great motivator for my son. He could immediately see exactly how far he had come and how much he had left to do. It was also really easy for me to look at his login page and make sure he had done his work for the day!

On the whole, we really liked this program. I think it is a great option for parents who don’t want to teach upper level math themselves. UnLock Math offers monthly and yearly pricing options, and you do get to choose your own start date, which is also nice.

If you would like to learn more, connect with UnLock Math on social media here:

UnLock Math on Facebook

UnLock Math on Twitter

UnLock Math on Pinterest

To hear what other members of the crew had to say about this program, and the other ones we got to check out, including their newest offering, UnLock Geometry click here:

Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Apologia Educational Ministries – Internship for High School Credit

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So, high school is all about preparing for the future, right? And what better way to prepare your child for their future than to have them do an internship in high school? Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? But, how do you set up said internship? And track it? And assign credits for it? Don’t worry, Apologia Educational Ministries is here to help! For this review, we got to check out their Internship for High School Credit workbook, and it helps answer all of those questions!

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The book starts with a basic introduction to internships and ideas for how to find an internship, how to figure out what to intern in, and how many hours are needed to earn credit (75 for one-half credit). This equates to about 5 hours per week, which is pretty manageable for a  summer or fall internship. I liked the fact that they spell all of this out for you in the beginning because that is the kind of stuff I have trouble figuring out.

Internship for High School Credit also offers sections on writing a resume and introductory letter, with samples, which was very helpful for my son. He learns best when he has concrete examples, and things have changed so much since I wrote my resumes, I like having examples too.

There are two sections in the workbook, one for each semester, in case you wanted to do a full year internship (which is about 150 hours). There is also a wrap-up section at the end with activities for your student to complete once their internship is done. So, you can decide on your own how long you want the internship to be.

At the beginning of the sememster, students set goals for their course, whch they are supposed to set with their supervisor. From there, they have weekly assignments that include a table where they track the dates and hours they worked, and then a series of questions to answer. The questions range from ones that get the students focused on their workplace (like observing the atmosphere and how people interact with each other there) to ones that get them thinking about their future career path (like researching colleges and degrees that will benefit them, thinking about what kinds of technology they will use on the job). At the end, students and their supervisors rate their performance, and there are several writing assignments including essays and writing a thank you note.

My son has been planning to do an internship with the children’s pastor at our church, as he has been interested in becoming a children’s minister himself for quite some time. When he began his internship a few weeks ago, the three of us met to go over what he would be doing and to set goals and a schedule. Since then, my son has been completing the weekly activities with me discussing them with him each week. I also sign off on his hours for the week. Our pastor also signs off on his hours and usually offers some feedback too.

So far, I am very happy with the Internship for High School Credit program. I feel like it has given my son’s internship real direction that it might not otherwise have had. I also feel like the questions have given my son a lot to think about, and it has led to some great discussions about his future both with me and with our pastor as well. If you are interested in having your child complete an internship and don’t know how to get started, I would highly recommend checking this out.

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

Apologia on Facebook

Apologia on Twitter

Apologia on YouTube

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this program and the How to Homeschool course they got to check out, click here:

Homeschool with Confidence & Internship for High School {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Memoria Press (First Form Latin)

Memoria PressI believe languages are important and to be honest, I’ve always been interested in Latin. I find it fascinating how much of our current vocabulary is derived from a variety of Latin roots. Really, knowing Latin can improve your vocabulary over all which is something that can benefit any high school student, but especially those interested in career paths involving science or medicine. So, I was excited to get to check out the First Form Latin Complete Set from Memoria Press for this review.

First Form Latin Complete SetFirst of all, when they say complete set, they mean complete set! I was absolutely amazed by everything that came in the box! There was a teacher manual, teacher key, student text, student workbook, test book, flash cards, pronunciation CD, and instructional DVD! Yes, I know that’s a lot, and I will admit, I was a little overwhelmed at first, just looking at it. However, Memoria Press also does a great job of coordinating all the pieces and parts to make it easy for you to use everything.

The teacher manual for this program is your best friend. It very explicitly lays out the order of each lesson for you. It also explains how you will use each part of the program. Now, keep in mind that First Form Latin was originally designed to be used in a classroom setting, so some of the activities (like games, choral recitations etc.) assume that you have more than one student. However, you can easily adapt it, either by taking on the role of a student yourself (which is what I did because I wanted to learn Latin anyway), having siblings take on those parts, or perhaps using it in a co-op setting.

Memoria Press offers a variety of Latin programs for all ages and I did First Form with my 10th grade son. Not because it is aimed at high school students, but because this is simply where you start with any older student. The good thing about this program is that prior experience with Latin is not required for the student or the teacher! I will tell you that there is a learning curve when you first start using the program, but that is because it is just so meaty! Since the lessons follow a predictable pattern, you kind of get into a groove after you’ve done it for a bit.

There is a suggested weekly schedule, which I followed, and lessons take about 30-45 minutes total, but you could break that up into smaller segments if you needed too. Students take quizzes each week, which I think is a nice feature, and you do quite a bit of review work through the flashcards and games, so they don’t forget what they have learned. You can also use this with the Famous Men of Rome curriculum to add in some history studies too.

My son enjoyed learning Latin with his mom, and while he doesn’t always like all the drills that come with it, he does see how useful they are. The student text and workbook are very straightforward and were easy for him to use. At the beginning we did the workbook together, but after we started moving through the lessons, we would complete some activities together and then he would finish the lesson on his own with me correcting it afterwards. It is really important that you take the time to go over the workbook activities with your child because that feedback helps them to learn.

Overall, we have really enjoyed First Form Latin, and I am seriously considering moving on to Second Form Latin when we are done. If you are looking for a very thorough, yet still easy to use Latin program for your child, we would definitely recommend this one. To learn more, connect with Memoria Press on social media here:

Memoria Press on Facebook

Memoria Press on Twitter

Memoria Press on Pinterest

Memoria Press on YouTube

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

Latin, Nature and Trees {Memoria Press Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: The Typing Coach

The Typing Coach

In this day and age, technology is only becoming more and more important. It is very likely that whatever job our children get, computer skills are going to be a must. I want my son to be comfortable with typing on a computer, particularly because he has some issues that make handwriting difficult for him. So, I was excited to try The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach with him.

The Typing Coach

The course is self-paced, which is nice because you are able to have your child work in the way that best suits them. At first, my son was pretty slow and getting through each lesson took quite a bit of time. However, as he practiced and got more comfortable, he was able to complete lessons at a much quicker pace. Lessons include audio and video learning as well as printable student packets that show the student what to type. These reminded me of the typing book I used in high school when learning to type on a typewriter. You know, the flip books you set up and typed from? I kind of liked this part of the program!

When you first log into the course there is a nice section with instructions for how to use each section as well as a video tour which is great for visual learners like my son. I highly recommend reading these and watching the video with your child. There are only seven lessons in the course, but the idea is to keep practicing each lesson until your child masters that section, so depending on how they are doing, the amount of time you spend on the course will vary. Like I said, in the beginning, lessons could take my son more than a week to get comfortable with, but he started going faster after the first few lessons.

Once you read all of the course information, students start with a practice test of sorts so they can get an idea of where they are at and compare their progress at the end of the course. From there they go into lessons on topics like having good posture, home row keys, number row, top row, etc. For each lesson students will need their student packet (which was over 16 pages, plus the tracking sheet and learning checks). I would say that this might be the only drawback for the program if you do not have an efficient printer.

For each lesson, students are literally “coached” along verbally by the program’s author. My son thought he had a pleasant voice and it was helpful to have him directing the lesson as he worked. Students follow the instruction he gives as they practice typing on their computer. We simply opened Microsoft Word and then my son typed as he listened to the lesson play.

Each lesson offers a very good amount of practice in my opinion. Students stroke the same letters repetitively until it almost becomes second nature. The author reminds students to maintain good posture as they work. During breaks in the lesson, light music plays in the background. I will say that for this part of the program, students really do need to be auditory learners, as they have to follow the verbal instructions, typing each letter they are told to type, and there is no video to go along with this part.

At the end of each lesson, students are given instructions for further practice before they move onto their learning check in the practice and testing center. Here, they will take typing test to see how well they have mastered that section. The goal is to complete the test with zero errors before moving on. I will be honest, my son struggled with this at first, especially since he had to go back repeat the lesson if he got any errors. However, I feel his accuracy is going to be so much better because of that, I think it’s a good feature.

Lessons can range anywhere from 20-30 minutes long, so if you have a fidgety child, you may need to break them up into parts. Overall, I feel like this is a solid typing program for anyone who wants to learn how to type. To learn more about this program, connect with The Typing Coach on social media here:

The Typing Coach on Twitter

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

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: IEW High School Essay Intensive

Institute for Excellence in WritingHigh school is where the rubber meets the road. As a homeschool mom, it is also the part that feels the most tricky to me. I have so much to get my kids ready for, SATs, ACTs, college applications. Ugh. And writing is a huge part of that. While I am pretty confident in my skills as a writing teacher, I still feel more secure with a set program for this subject, just to make sure I don’t miss anything. So, for this review, I was excited to check out the High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing.

I have used products from IEW before and I have always been happy with them. This new program is no different. High School Essay Intensive is very thorough, with the same detailed instruction I have come to expect from Mr. Pudewa. The program itself comes with five DVDs full of instruction, totaling over 6 hours. The format is the same as other IEW courses which feature Mr. Pudewa teaching a group of students. It also includes handouts and a general outline of the course.

Institute for Excellence in Writing High School Essay Intensive This program features a wide range of topics from different paragraph models, to outlining, proofreading, and writing for specific purposes like the ACT. The course outline includes a space for your student to take notes, which I found really helpful for my 10th grade son. He was able to follow along on the DVD and the guided outline allowed him to take notes easily. For a student who is working on note-taking skills, this feature is very helpful.

The included handout, Portable Walls for the Essayist, is a great reference your student can use all through high school. It includes definitions of the different types of essays, essay models, examples and outlines of the writing process, and more, all in a handy, laminated, folder-type handout. We are definitely going to hang onto it for future writing reference.

So, how did we use the High School Essay Intensive from IEW? Well, basically we started with disc 1, breaking the lectures into parts. My high-intensity sophomore is not good at sitting and watching video for more than 25-30 minutes at a time, so I would break the videos into parts and have him take notes on each section. Then we would pick up the next day wherever we left off. It might take us a little longer to complete the program this way, but that doesn’t bother me. I would rather go slower and make sure my son truly understands the lessons anyway.

After taking notes, my son would also work through any assignments in the course, from outlining, to writing sentences, to essays themselves. Some assignments took longer than others, so we would adjust the lecture schedule accordingly as needed. This is one of the areas I really appreciate Mr. Pudewa. He is just so good at making things really clear for students. His easy to follow instruction made it simple for my son to “get” what he was supposed to be writing about.

We really enjoyed the High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing. Andrew Pudewa is great at connecting with students and making writing interesting (his sense of humor helps a lot too). I felt this program was really well-laid out and helped ME as a homeschool mom improve my writing instruction. The only drawback I see with this is that it doesn’t include a suggested schedule, which I always kind of like to have.

To learn more about the High School Essay Intensive, connect with IEW on social media here:

Excellence in Writing on Facebook

IEW on YouTube

IEW on Twitter

IEW on Pinterest

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

High School Essay Intensive {Institute for Excellence in Writing Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels”

Drive Thru HistoryIt has always been a dream of mine to travel to the Middle East and explore the places where Jesus walked. Unfortunately, due to life and budget restraints, that will probably never happen. However, this review offered me and my family a chance to experience those places anyway. The DVD set Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” from Drive Thru History® will take you on an amazing adventure through Biblical history.

Drive Thru History The GospelsIf you are familiar with the series, you may know the host, Dave Stotts. He is your tour guide as you watch the DVDs, taking you through the country and explaining the importance of each place. The set includes 18 episodes, each 30 minutes long, and they explore about 50 sites mentioned in the Gospels!

Drive Thru History The GospelsWe love history in our family anyway, but even if you aren’t huge fans, I think you will still find this series exciting. Dave’s presentation is very very good. You can sense his enthusiasm for where he is and it makes you feel excited too. My son thought it was really cool to “see” so many of the places he has read about in the Bible. I think it almost made it seem more real to him, less like a collection of stories, and more like a real history book. I mean, my son knows that everything in the Bible is real, but there is something about seeing the actual locations that makes it more so somehow.

I also liked that each episode was only 30 minutes long. This made it easy to work them into our schedule around the other things we were doing. Some days we watched one episode and then picked up watching another later in the week. However, one one day when my son wasn’t feeling well we watched several episodes back to back. I also like the fact that the series has such broad appeal. It is aimed at grades 5 and up, but I easily think you could watch this with the whole family, and with younger kids, use a story Bible to share the stories of what happened in those places with them.

I also think you could easily add this to an existing Bible study or go ahead and just read the Gospels themselves as you watch the series. There is something about making that connection between what you are reading and the images of the actual places that make it seem deeper and more real. The DVD series itself comes with a study guide that includes scripture quotes, a summary of each section, and questions you can use for discussion if you wish.

We would always talk after each episode, sometimes using the study guide as a starting point. Other times we would break out our Bibles and go read the parts of the Gospels that correspond with that particular episode, and I swear, each time we did that it was like we got something new from it, even though we’ve read those same chapters over and over again.

My family really enjoyed the Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” series. In fact, I’m seriously considering getting some of their other series to watch in the future. We would definitely recommend this if your family wants to know more about the life that Jesus lived.

To learn more about this series, connect with them on social media here:

Facebook

YouTube

InstagramInstagram

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

 

The Gospels {Drive Thru History® Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: CompuScholar, Inc

CompuScholar, Inc.My 10th grade son is a techie, and he particularly loves gaming. At some point, he might like to design and create games of his own, so learning about computers is important to him. I want him to have the ability to write programs, but I am so far from being able to do that, it’s not even funny! For this review, I was excited to have him check out the Java Programming course from CompuScholar, Inc.

CompuScholar, Inc. Java ProgrammingThis course is designed for high school students, especially those interested in taking the AP Computer Science exam. The course page offers study resources to help prepare students for the exam, and the lessons go in depth into topics like getting started with Java, working with strings, user input, debugging, and much much more.

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Worried that you have no idea what any of that means? Don’t be, I don’t either. Fortunately, this online course does all the teaching for you. Of course, if you are already fluent in computer programming language, you could certainly help your child through the program, but experience on the parent’s part, is not necessary! (thank goodness)

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We found the Java Programming course to be very user-friendly. It is divided into roughly 27 chapters, with individual lessons for each chapter. Lessons include instruction (video or text), assignments, and quizzes. When your child logs on, they simply click on the chapter they are working on and get started.

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I appreciated the fact that the video lessons were pretty short, which is good for boys with short attention spans. However, even though the lessons may not be long, they are full of information. That’s why it is also nice to have a text version of the lesson available as well. If my son had trouble remembering something, or didn’t quite get something, he could watch the video again and/or go read the lesson text as well.

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The quizzes were great for me as a homeschool teacher. In high school, I do think it is important to record grades and things like that. Having everything graded for me made it very easy for me to keep track of how he was doing, and also makes it easier for me to track credits for high school. Students have two attempts at every quiz, so if my son did not do well, I had him review the lesson and take it again. Each chapter also features an exam at the end that reviews all the lessons.

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The part my son enjoyed the most was probably the activities. Some of them were complicated, but that’s what I would expect from a course at this level. He did have me read over the directions with him on a couple of assignments, but once he understood the directions, he was able to complete the assignments on his own. I felt like the assignments offered him a great opportunity to practice what he was learning. After finishing this course, I feel like he would be able to move into further computer programming courses at our local community college with a solid foundation to build on.

My son enjoyed the Java Programming course from CompuScholar Inc., and as a mom, I feel like it was a very strong course for a high school student. We are going to review the AP resources and consider signing him up for the test. CompuScholar offers multiple pricing options for this course, from monthly to yearly payments and self-study and teacher-led courses.

To learn more about CompuScholar Inc., connect with them on social media here:

CompuScholar Inc. on Facebook

CompuScholar Inc. on Twitter

To learn more about this, and the other courses our reviewers got to check out, like their Web Design and Digital Savvy courses, click here:

 

Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}Crew Disclaimer