TOS Review: CTCMath

CTCMath Review

As our children get older, the thought of doing more advanced subjects (such as my nemesis, math) can be intimidating. However, you should never let something like that discourage you. Programs like the Homeschooling Membership from CTCMath are designed to help support us in those areas we find most challenging.

CTC offers thousands of online lessons in a variety of topics ranging from Algebra to Trigonometry. The self-paced lessons include videos and interactive practice activities. Students can watch the lesson, follow along with the teacher, then pause or rewind whenever they need to! This also makes it convenient to parents who are schooling other children because your child can go through the lesson on their own, then call you to come watch the video with them if they get stuck.

Another great feature of CTC is that it includes printable step-by-step solutions for the problems in the practice set, making it easy to go over them with your child and help them correct mistakes (this is a big one for me, I need to SEE how to work the problems in order to figure out how to explain it to my son if he needs help.) You can also print summaries of the lessons, with formulas and other notes your child can refer to if they need too. My youngest is an audio learner, and he struggles with taking notes himself, so this is a nice feature.

For parents, CTC offers a separate log in where you can track your child’s progress. The reports give you loads of information too, like how many lessons they completed on each topic, how many lessons they passed and more. This makes it easy for you to identify the topics your child struggles with the most. Since lessons are broken up into topics, you can easily choose to start your child on a particular one (say, adding fractions with unlike denominators for example), rather than having them spend time on something they already know how to do.

The instructor in the lessons has been teaching since 1989, so he is very experienced, and presents the information clearly. Lessons also include graphics and animation to engage different learning modalities. The video lessons themselves run about 10 minutes, which is great if your child has a short attention span, and the practice that follows gives students a chance to practice what they learned immediately. If you feel your child hasn’t quite mastered a topic, simply have them repeat the lesson. In addition to the video tutorials, CTC also offers diagnostic tests and fun math games to help students improve their skills.

A one-year homeschool membership costs less than $100 and you can use it for multiple children. To learn more, connect with CTC on social media here:

CTCMath on Facebook

CTCMath on Twitter

CTCMath on Periscope

CTCMath on Pinterest

CTCMath on YouTube

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

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TOS Review: Demme Learning (Math-U-See Digital Packs)

Demme Learning Math U See ReviewI love the idea of having a virtual, online teacher for upper level math, and I have always been intrigued by the products from Math-U-See. With my oldest in his senior year of high school, I was very excited to get to check out the Pre-Calculus level Digital Pack from Demme Learning.

Demme Learning Math U See ReviewThe Pre-Calculus Digital Pack gives you access to streaming instructional videos, Instruction manual PDFs, lessons, and tests for 12 months. It does not include the the physical workbooks or textbooks, but you can order those if you want, or, if you have used Math-U-See in the past, you can add the Digital Pack for the extra resources. As a new users, I was very fortunate to receive the physical Pre-Calculus pack which included the Instruction manual, a DVD copy of the lessons, the Student Workbook, and Test book. These hardback text is very detailed and I can tell it will last for years, so it’s perfect to pass onto my younger son. The workbooks and test book are also well done, and inexpensive enough that I won’t mind replacing them for him in the future, so I think they would be well worth the investment as having them to go along with the digital lessons is a huge bonus.

Demme Learning Math U See ReviewThe Pre-Calculus course consists of 30 units with some Trigonometry included. Some examples of the types of lessons include: Trigonometric Ratios, Law of Sines, Vectors, and Logarithims. Each lesson begins with an instructional video that can last anywhere from 10 minutes to about a half hour. Mr. Demme does a very good job of explaining these rather complicated (in my opinion anyway) concepts. I watched the videos either with my son or before he did, and believe me, math is not my thing, but after watching them, I felt I had a strong enough understanding to help if he needed it, and that’s saying something!

Now, additional resources you get access to include answer keys for the test and Honors questions,  and the lesson summary which includes all the key points from the lesson and sample problems, which was helpful to print out. However, you would need to really order the workbook and test book to go along with the program to give your child something to work on, as they do not offer printable worksheets. The workbook includes four daily worksheets with 15-20 daily practice problems, plus one optional honors lesson, and a weekly test on each unit.

Basically, I had my son watch the video for the lesson on day 1 and complete at least half of the first worksheet. If he got all the answers correct, then he moved onto doing half of the next worksheet the next day (he did note that the problems seemed to get progressively more challenging each day). We ended the week with the Honors lesson and quiz. If, for some reason, he missed more than 2-3 questions on the first half of the daily worksheets, we would go over them, make corrections, then he would finish the rest of the problems to make sure he understood the problems. This way, I wasn’t overwhelming him with busy work for stuff he understood, but at the same time, I made sure he got plenty of practice for things that were difficult for him.

Regular unit tests are built into the program about every seven lessons so students get a chance to review what they have learned. The online solutions are very convenient because they make it easy to score the tests and lessons quickly so you can address any mistakes before they become bad habits (because I don’t like math, I have a tendency to put it off, but with Math-U-See Digital Packs, I didn’t, everything was right there and it only took a few minutes!). Quick and painless is how I like my high school math, and that’s what the Math-U-See Digital Packs have been for us so far. Even my math-hating son hasn’t found much to complain about! I feel like these digital packs can add a lot to any homeschool, and they are a great value at $61. Demme Learning also offers a variety of other levels to accommodate your needs. To learn more, connect with them on social media here:

Math-U-See on Facebook

Math-U-See on Instagram

Math-U-See on Twitter

Math-U-See on YouTube

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

Demme Learning's Math-U-See Review

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TOS Review: Stinky Kid Math

Stinky Kid Math ReviewMath was my least favorite subject when I was in school and it is still my least favorite subject now. However, I still need to teach it to my kids. At the elementary level, that’s not too difficult. However, as they get older, explaining more advanced concepts becomes a lot more challenging. So, I was excited to get to review Stinky Kid Math, a website that offers video lessons and worksheets for upper level math classes.

Stinky Kid Math offers classes in Foundational Algebra, which covers Pre-Algebra and Algebra I, Complex Algebra, which covers Algebra I&II, and Geometry. I had my 8th/9th grade boy start with the Foundational Algebra lessons. The courses are well organized around topics, and you could easily choose to focus on specific topics if you wanted to, but we just started with the first lesson. Basically, each section has a series of videos (these can range anywhere from three to ten so far) that the child watches. The videos themselves are only a few minutes each and focus on one specific thing. For example, in the section on Algebra Properties, there was one video each for the Commutative Property, Associative Property, and Distributive Property, and they were less than three minutes each.

The instructor is very easy to follow, and uses a chalkboard with nice, bright chalk to illustrate his lesson. Each section also contains a link to a PDF file of a textbook lesson on that specific subject, so you and your child can also read the lesson and see more written examples if you wish. This is good because it accommodates different learning styles. There is also a link for printable worksheets to go along with the lessons, and the worksheets include an answer key. I found these very helpful.

Now, once we got started on Stinky Kid Math, my son was able to pretty much do it on his own. The video lessons are really, really clear, and he only occasionally needed my help figuring things out. He was even able to (finally) get distributive property! While the program is not certified as a full curriculum and is designed to serve as more of a supplement, I am currently using it as our main math until I get enough money together to purchase a curriculum for this year. Right now, I feel like it gives us plenty of math. My son completes one section a day at the moment, unless it has a lot of videos, in which case I break it up into parts.

I really like the fact that it has worksheets I can print to go along with the lessons. I feel like this allows my son to immediately practice what he just learned and allows me to see right away whether he got it or not. If I feel like he didn’t really understand something, we watch the lesson together again, and then he repeats the worksheet, or I look for another worksheet on the same topic from somewhere else.

Stinky Kid Math also offers fun math games that allow students to practice basic fundamentals like converting fractions and decimals, understanding shapes, and adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers while having fun. Access to the program costs $9.99 per month.

To learn more about Stinky Kid Math, connect with them on Social Media here:
Stinky Kid Math on Facebook

Stinky Kid Math on Twitter

To see what other members of the crew thought about this program, click here:
Stinky Kid Math Review

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TOS Review: CTC Math

CTCMath ReviewUpper level math is always a challenge, at least for me. I love the idea of having some kind of video/online math that my kids can do that allows me to NOT have to be solely responsible for teaching them these concepts. For this review, we got to check out the 12 month Family Plan from CTC Math an online math program that offers videos and practice for students in multiple levels.

 

CTC offers a wide variety of tutorials in subjects like algebra, geometry, statistics, and more. In addition, CTC offers interactive worksheets that provide additional practice on concepts students are learning, and regular reports for parents on student progress. My 8th grade son used the pre-algebra program with CTC for this review, and we were both very happy.

For starters, parents and students get their own log in access. Parents select a program for their child (ranging from kindergarten to upper level math). Students can complete assessments in different areas and also watch videos and complete assignments and worksheets related to those videos. They have multiple attempts on each lesson, but on the reports the parents receive, it is possible to see how many times they attempted each lesson.

One thing I liked about CTC is how subjects are broken into topics. This makes it possible for parents to really focus attention on areas where their children struggle the most. For example, my son has really had a hard time with combining like terms in pre-algebra, so we kind of skipped ahead to this part of the program. Since CTC is set up to work kind of like a tutorial, you can move ahead or back up at your discretion. This freedom to move around makes it really flexible, which is a great thing for homeschool moms!

In addition, I liked the fact that I could reset and repeat lessons as I felt it was necessary. For the most part, I allowed my son to complete CTC on his own, while I was in the room, usually engaged with another task (folding laundry, washing dishes etc). So, while I was within earshot, I wasn’t exactly looking over his shoulder. At his age, he doesn’t necessarily want mom around all the time. Plus, I really am trying to hand over more responsibility for his schooling to his hands. But, at the same time, I know he is a 13/14 year old boy who does have a tendency to “rush” through things when he gets frustrated. With CTC, I have the chance to review what he does. If I feel he didn’t take a lesson seriously enough, I do have the opportunity to review it with him, and have him redo it, if necessary.

The homeschool program for CTC is good for up to 10 children, and since it offers so many grade levels, I could see it being wonderful for families with multiple students. My son enjoyed the videos a lot. I don’t know if it is quite enough to be a stand-alone program for all students. I think for kids who are good at math it can. For a student who struggles in math, you would maybe need to look for some extra practice worksheets online, but that’s about it. It really does offer a whole lot! I would definitely recommend checking it out!

To learn more about CTC connect with them on social media here:

CTC Math on Facebook

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

CTCmath Review

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TOS Review: A+ Interactive Math

A+ Interactive Math Review

My kids and I have struggled through math for years. In elementary school, I did okay. But once they got to higher math, the struggle began. Recently, I have been concerned about my kids having “gaps” due to my own personal errors. So, I was really excited to get to try the Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan from A+ Interactive Math. The program is designed to identify gaps in your child’s in your child’s learning and create a targeted lesson plan to help the catch up!

A+ Interactive Math Review

Basically, you sign up your kids and choose a grade level (for my son, we used Pre-Algebra, although I am told higher levels are currently in development). Your child signs on and takes a series of “mini” tests. Each one took my son about 10-20 minutes. After they complete the tests, a program is designed based on their individual needs. After completing the program, students should be caught up in about 3 months.

Lessons include multi-media lessons that utilize audio, video, and text presentations. Each lesson also includes built-in review that covers needed concepts based on your child’s performance. Automatic grading and tracking makes things easy for parents and worksheets provide extra practice. Step-by-step solutions help students (and their parents) identify errors and make corrections.

For parents, the program allows them to review each test and see how their child performs. It also tells you if the student is on grade level or not. The reports are VERY detailed, telling you how many times the student attempted the test, allowing you to look at each problem and view their answer and the correct solution (if they got it wrong). It also tells you how much time was allotted for the problem (in many cases around 5 minutes) and how long it took your child to solve the problem.

Each test targets a specific area. For example, in Pre-Algebra, tests cover topics like fractions, exponents, parabolas, expressions, and polynomials. I found the detailed reports to be tremendously helpful for me. For starters, it allowed me to really see what my son needed to work on, and it gave me step by step solutions to the problems, so I could get them right too! Also, it helped me in terms of figuring out what to focus on with him.

In addition, parents can access summary reports and progress reports for each area. These reports tell you how many questions students attempted, how many they got right etc. It also tells you whether or not the students need an adaptive lesson plan based on that area. The student lesson plan for my son in the area of exponents included interactive lessons and online worksheets designed to help him catch up. Progress reports show you how close your child is to reaching their goals in each area. For my son, the lessons and worksheets were very instructive, and easy to complete. By that I mean that instead of being filled with anxiety and struggling for hours, he was able to go through the lessons and complete the worksheets on his own the majority of the time. I was available (as in present in the room) for help when necessary, but really, he worked through this mostly on his own. If your child is easily frustrated, worksheets can be saved and worked on in stages.

For my son, this program took about 20-30 minutes per day. For us for math, that’s pretty good. Seriously, with our regular paper-and-pencil math program, we spend a good 40 minutes trying to work through it together and usually end up fighting (or crying) by the end.

I feel like by the time we complete this program, my son will be in a really good place as far as Pre-Algebra goes, putting us in a good position for next year. This program also only costs $29.99 for one student, with the price going up for each additional student. I would definitely pay this because I think it is worth it. I just wish they offered even higher levels like Algebra I and Geometry for older students (like my high-schooler!).

You can learn more about A+ Interactive Math through their social media pages here:
APlus TutorSoft on Facebook

A+ TutorSoft on Twitter

A+ TutorSoft on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew thought of this, and the Family Math Program, click here:

A+ Interactive Math Review/

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TOS Review: Pattern Explorer (The Critical Thinking Co.)

Critical Thinking Company ReviewDo you enjoy playing those brain training games or doing crosswords? Me and my boys love that stuff. I think there is a lot of value in puzzles and other activities that get your brain to think in unusual ways. For this review, my youngest got to check out Pattern Explorer Level 1 from The Critical Thinking Co. Aimed at grades 5-7, it provides a number of different activities that help children recognize patterns and develop mathematical reasoning skills.

Critical Thinking Company ReviewThe book is set up around five themes, with eight activities per theme. Typical activities include Number Ninja where students complete Sudoku-like puzzles or work out equations to make the answer correct. Pattern Predictor asks students to find the pattern with numbers or shapes. Other themes include Equality Explorer, Sequence Sleuth, and Function Finder. The activities are similar as far as how they are done, but they get progressively more complex as time goes on.

When my son first started working in the book, I did each activity with him, going over the instructions and working the first problem together. After introducing him to each of the themes, I let him take over. I checked his work using the answer key, and was available to help him out if he got stuck.

I usually assigned him one to two pages a day that he did before his regular math as sort of a “warm up”. Generally, it never took him more than 10-15 minutes to complete the activities and he enjoyed doing them. I will say that as we got further in, the activities became more challenging, and there were times I needed to refer to the answer key in order to help my son. He was particularly good at the sequence and number activities and probably struggled most with the function and equality activities.

I feel like the activities in the Pattern Explorer book are great preparation for algebra. Kids really have to play with numbers to get them to fit and learn how to recognize the patterns, much like they do when solving equations. Determining the functions and balancing the equations are also excellent preparation for upper level math. The hints for each activity were also very helpful, since you can use them to give your child clues when they get stuck, without revealing the answer.

I think you could definitely use this book as a supplement to a math curriculum, or as some quick and fun practice during school breaks. We also found it very helpful for those busy days when we are doing “car schooling”. It could also be used to provide an extra challenge to younger students who are really good at math. Pattern Explorer costs $14.99, which seems reasonable to me. To find out more, connect with the Critical Thinking Company on social media here:

The Critical Thinking Company on Facebook

The Critical Thinking Company on Google+

The Critical Thinking Company on Twitter

The Critical Thinking Company on Pinterest

To find out more about this product and the others that my fellow Crew members got to check out, click here:
Critical Thinking Company Review

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TOS Review: IXL

Christmas Book Review

While I have found many online programs to be hit or miss as far as instruction goes, I think they can be very useful as a supplement to the instruction I provide. I have been pretty happy with our main math program so far (my youngest is in Pre-Algebra) but I do feel like he could use some extra practice on some topics. So, for this review, I was glad to get a chance to check out IXL for their math and language arts programs.

IXL offers practice on a variety of skills organized by grade level. What I really like about it is the fact that you can have your child work at any level you want. So, if your child is slightly above or below grade level in an area, you can have them practice skills they need. My son worked mainly on the 8th grade math topics. Skills are organized by topic, such as measurement, problem solving, linear functions, single-variable equations etc. You do not have to follow the lessons in order, which is a big help.

I had my son use IXL three-five days a week for additional practice after math. I would choose a topic that corresponded with our math lesson at least three of the days, and then we would spend two days working on things that he needed help in (mostly fractions). He would usually work on this after completing his math lesson. It worked out well for us because IXL only took him about 10-15 minutes to complete. The lessons are pretty simple, the student completes a series of practice problems. Students earn points as they complete problems, and the lesson is complete when they earn a certain amount of points. They are awarded more points for solving problems faster. When they get problems wrong, they lose points.

If a student misses a problem, they are shown the correct answer, and then given a brief explanation of how to solve the problem correctly. Then they complete another problem. Now, IXL does not provide instruction in the form or videos or detailed explanations. The idea is that they are getting the instruction from you. However, IXL will provide plenty of extra practice with some reinforcement.

IXL Language Arts works in much the same way. Topics covered for 8th grade include serial commas, verb tense, context clues, analogies, and more. The lessons follow the same structure, with the student completing a series of practice problems and getting instruction when they get an answer wrong. The instruction they get is very clear, with examples. I found that my son was able to follow the lessons very well, and only occasionally needed further clarification.

The math practice in particular was very effective for my son. It was nice that we could get in extra practice on topics he is struggling with without having to take extra time away from math. Also, while I like our math program a lot for its instruction, it does not include a lot of practice, so IXL was a great supplement.

For parents, IXL emails you reports about your child’s activity for the week, and you can log in and look at their progress reports. These tell you how much time your child spent on each topic and how they are doing as well. The Trouble Spot report identifies particular areas that your child needs more practice in. I found these reports to be helpful, especially because I mainly had my son log in and practice on his own.

IXL offers math for grades Pre-K-12 and language practice for grades 2-8 and has monthly and yearly subscriptions. They also have mobile apps available. A one subject subscription costs $9.95 per month while a two subject subscription costs $15.95 per month. Yearly subscriptions are $79 for one child in one subject and $129 for one child in two subjects. Additional children cost $2 more per month or $20 more per year. I think that if you are looking for extra practice that is easy to do and manage, I would definitely recommended it.

To learn more about IXL, connect with them on social media here:
IXL on Facebook

IXL on Twitter

IXL on Google+

Check out what other members of the crew had to say about IXL here:
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