Tag Archives: math

Math Success (CTCMath) ~ a Crew review

Math Success with CTCMath

If you know much about our family, and most homeschoolers it seems, math can be a struggle and a challenge. However, the Family Membership we have been reviewing from CTCMath has been a game changer, giving us access to all levels for all three girls for 12 months. One thing we all know is that people change as they grow and mature. Our children are no different. The last time we tried CTCMath (about five years ago), it was not a good fit. However, it is the perfect fit for all three of the girls this time around and I could not be any more pleased.

CTC-Math

CTCMath is an online subscription program. It is video based instruction with online, interactive questions, printable worksheets, quizzes, tests, and online question bank options to help students all learn at their maximum ability. The customer service answers emailed questions very quickly. (We had a question about a video and their response was received within a few hours.)

The student dashboard on CTCMath is where students access their materials for the day. Each student has their own login and password. The student logs in and, if assigned a task, can just click on tasks and head on to the lesson and questions. If they have not been assigned a task, it takes quite a few more clicks to get to the next set of instruction materials (especially since it seems to still think the girls are all five years younger than they are). Still, the girls are all able to maneuver to their lessons, click the lesson, and off they go.

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They each watch the video, stopping it to take notes and write down examples as needed. There is also a PDF of the examples from the video if you would like to print that. It is found just under the video and is titled “Lesson Summary.” Then, how they answer quesitons varies a bit since they are at such different levels. Miss J, at the 5th grade level, has online questions so far. She is given a single problem on the screen and then selects the correct answer for it or enters the correct answer for it. It is automatically graded.

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Miss E is working on Geometry. She has a set of online questions to answer. Then she is given a worksheet, as well. We can print that worksheet or she can copy the problems onto a page and note her answers. She then has an answer bank to choose her answers from and a set of boxes that she has to enter the corresponding letter for the correct answer. After finishing that, the system automatically grades her answers, showing her where she missed and giving her the opportunity to view the solutions. (Solutions cannot be viewed until it is attempted at least once.)

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Miss L is working on Basic Math & Pre-Algebra. Her set up is the same as Miss E’s.

The lessons are short and to the point, teaching exactly what is needed to understand the concept being taught. There is no fluff and there is just enough practice on the concept for the girls to feel like they understand it without having to do a whole lot of excess. These straight forward lessons have really helped the girls get to the core of learning and understanding math.

As for me, I really like the parent/teacher side of the program. I can see everything the girls are doing. It tells me when they log in and log out. It tells me what they work on. It tells me their score on the lesson. I get a weekly emailed update on the girls’ week and how they did, just in case I haven’t logged into the parent side recently. I can save that PDF report if I need documentation.

login record

As a parent, I can edit my student’s material to be appropriate. I can decide what the passing level will be. My girls have an 80% pass level. I can adapt that and I have. It actually started at 90% but when the Geometry work only has 6 or 8 questions and you miss one? Well, that got really frustrating really fast. So 80% it is. And it works well.

Another feature I like having is the ability to delete a score and have the student redo it. There was one day where one of the girls was just off. She got a lousy score on her daily work and it was the only thing that was not 100 in her row. She was miserable over that. I was able to visit the User Guide and find a video about what to do with that sort of thing. I was able to delete it and let her have another go at it since it was an unusual thing for her. She redid it another day and was able to happily move on.

There is a neat feature on the program that is fairly new – Question Bank Wizard. This allows you to select the lessons your student needs practice on. It automatically generates a set of questions for the student to practice with. You determine how many questions you want it to generate or how many minutes you want the student to practice. Next you determine if you want easy, harder, or a mix. You then have it generate the question bank. You can order the questions, moving them up or down in the series. This is a really nice feature for a student who is struggling in a particular area or two. It is available up through Algebra I. I hope the rest of the high school topics are coming soon.

question bank wizard

There is a User Guide online that is composed of a number of different videos to help you see how to do certain tasks, such as scheduling tasks for the student, using the Question Bank Wizard, or adding students. They are easy to follow and very helpful. This is the place to start if you decide to check out CTCMath, as their Getting Started video was very helpful. There are several other features, such a printable checklists and exporting data, that may be helpful to you.

CTCMath picture

CTCMath has been an wonderful change for our family. The girls all asked if this could be their math curriculum for this year. No discussion necessary – it is done. I am so pleased with CTCMath. Please check them out.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Families on the Homeschool Review Crew have been using CTCMath for the past couple of months. Click on the image below to see what their experiences were like.

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Matific Galaxy (math practice) ~ a Crew review

Matific Galaxy review

Once in a while, we end up with a program that just captivates one of the girls’ attention. Matific Galaxy has done just that. This online math practice program is such an enjoyable way to practice math that when Miss J asks to play computer games, this is where she goes. She will easily spend as much time as I will let her practicing math on the Matific Galaxy site.

matific-logo_570-x-180

Even when she gets stumped, she doesn’t mind asking for help since she is having so much fun. We started her off on the 5th grade level since she is a rising 5th grader. I figured it would give her a bit of a challenge but if it was too hard, we could easily go back down a level and truly call it practice. Even the hard stuff she is enjoying. I don’t remember her being frustrated with this once.

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Matific Galaxy is available worldwide in a huge variety of languages. It is not American and thus is not aligned with anything in the US (such as Common Core) YET it does a great job of teaching the math skills the students need. With a research-based spiral curriculum, this is a challenging and encouraging supplement. They list all of the skills taught in each grade level right on the website, with the opportunity to try one of them before purchase.

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Matific Galaxy is an online subscription. It requires internet access and a paid subscription. You can choose a single grade option or a multi grade option. The material goes up to 6th grade. Each student must have a separate account as it tracks individual progress. There is a 25% discount for each additional student according to the website.

There is not a placement test that I could locate.  Since the skills are listed on the website, it was fairly easy to make a determination of where to begin. It is easy enough to move them up or down grade levels if needed.

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The student will login and it is easy to get right to work. The student works through different episodes. Each episode has a cute little pixelated character that shows progress within the episode. Each completed activity earns more pixels to complete the character. You can see the difference here with the completed character and the one being worked on.

 

The activities are fairly straightforward. Miss J’s favorite are the activities that work on geometry. She has really enjoyed those. It will ask her to identify the number of sides or the number of vertices or some other identifying attribute and then click on shapes that match that. Within each skill area, there are just a few question so that it doesn’t wear the student out or frustrate them when working on a challenging skill. I believe they ranged from 3 to 7 questions per skill.

 

If it was a computation skill, there is a calculator that comes up on the screen to help the student figure their answer. This was helpful in some of the multiplication skills. Miss J still needed paper and pencil or whiteboard and marker for many of the skills she was working on. She had not worked on multiplying decimals or adding fractions before so this was one area where she needed help from one of her big sisters or a parent. We had to teach the skill and then she could practice it. While it meant the game took a tad bit longer, it was a great way to keep doing what she was having fun with for math and still get in the teaching of new skills and concepts.

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One of Miss J’s favorite parts was taking care of the characters after she had earned them. Each character continues to want care – cleaning, toys, and food. When you do this for the characters, more coins are earned which allows more clothing or accessories to be bought for the character. While this has nothing to do with math, it is something that Miss J enjoyed about the program. AND, she could replay the math games to earn more also. Miss J did this often as she wanted to earn more coins to buy the characters the things they wanted, like new handkerchiefs or hats or construction equipment.

 

There are reports that allow you to see where your student is excelling or struggling and the reports are simple to read and understand. There is the activity highlights report that tells you how much has been completed and the average of scores for overall categories.

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The Results by Topic report breaks the categories down by skill area and gives the percentage correct. It also gives a comparison of the average for all students using that level of Matific Galaxy.

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There is also a report that breaks the skills down further by the assignment within each episode. Screenshot 2019-06-24 at 10.12.42 AM

You can select to receive a weekly update via email to get reports how the student is progressing, if the weekly time goal was met, and other information.

If the student is struggling, you can access a few worksheets that correspond to some of the skills. They are not simple to get to for the homeschool teacher as they are found on the classroom part of the site but they can be sent via email one by one for the topics where more help is needed. I was looking at what was available for work with decimals and found this one that I had emailed to me. I can then print it out for Miss J when she is working on that skill.

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This has been a wonderful program to have come across. I imagine in just another week or two, Miss J will have completed all of the grade 5 skills. This is because she will spend, easily, 4 hours a week on the program as opposed to the suggested 45 minutes per week. That’s okay with me as she is really increasing her math knowledge at great speed.

I plan to have her go back over the skill areas where she didn’t have above 80% since this is where her greatest challenges are being shown. Most of these are where she had to be taught the skill to complete the game and so she struggled a bit. Not a problem! She can tackle them again in order to earn more for her characters. A Win-Win!

After she gets those averages up, I plan to move her on to the 6th grade skills. Why not? If she loves it and is learning, why hold her back? This program is a huge hit and I feel no hesitation in recommending it.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read about the other families who have been using Matific Galaxy. Just click on the banner below.

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Hands-on Geometry for Elementary

3D geometric shapes

There are many options for teaching geometry but I find that most of it is paper and pencil. While I do believe this has its place in learning, hands-on learning is so much more effective for many youngsters. Miss J is one of these. She thrives when we have something to place in her hands to help her understand ideas and concepts.

Today during her math lesson, she had to identify various shapes. While she knew most of them, she still didn’t enjoy it and struggled a bit with some of the names. After writing a couple of them down, she jumped up and ran away.

My first thought was “she was doing so well and just chugging away; now I am going to have to get onto her.” A minute later she was back and carrying a box. It was our set of 3 dimensional solids. Yep – something to put in her hands to help her feel the idea and solidify it. (Can I get away with that pun?)

She spent the next 20 minutes or so looking at, classifying, naming, sorting, and just enjoying learning about these shapes. By the time she was ready to put them away – yes, she chose to be done with them; I did not make her stop – she had a much stronger understanding of most of the 3D shapes and was able to write those names down with no problem.

shorting shapes

Other ideas for hands-on learning of geometric shapes?

  • chalk and drawing shapes
  • making shapes out of clay
  • building shapes from blocks
  • pattern blocks from fun foam
  • pattern blocks with magnets

These are just some ideas that popped to mind when I thought about writing this post because sometimes we forget how crucial hands-on learning is for students. I encourage you to add some hands-on learning to your math time and see the faces of your student light up.

Blessings,
At Home.

No-Nonsense Algebra ~ a Crew review

No Nonsense Algebra
As we continue on in our quest to learn the various math concepts, anything that presents in a new or different way is a potential treasure. When Math Essentials was up for review, the No-Nonsense Algebra looked like a very good possibility to assist us with some pre-algebra concept review.

No-Nonsense Algebra is a book that begins at the pre-algebra concepts necessary to be able to learn algebra. From there, it goes all the way through quadratic equations. That is a huge span of material but it is a compact, straight-forward presentation. Each lesson is a page or two long and consists of a written instruction, examples, exercises, and review of previous concepts. There is also an online video lesson to assist in the teaching.

This is more of a text book than a workbook, as there is not a lot of space between each equation or question. Additionally, the student is encouraged to copy down and work each step of the example, as well as showing all work for each exercise and review. The pages are definitely not spacious enough for that and using notebook paper or graph paper allows the student to keep their work lined up nicely and neatly.

video lesson

The video lessons are accessed with a code that is found inside the book. With that code, you just head over to the No Nonsense Algebra website where you will be able to create an account. With your code, you will have access to the videos for each of the lessons. The videos seem to run around 10 minutes in length, some a little more, some a little less. It is a video of a smart board with a voice walking you through the steps as they are shown on the board. It is a no frills video and the voice is straight-forward. The videos are not just a repeat of the written examples; they are an instruction in the concept.

HOW WE USED THIS BOOK

Since Miss E is working in pre-algebra, we asked to use this book as a concept review of the materials and concepts she has covered so far. We knew we would probably only get through the first chapter and a little into the second during the review period since those are the concepts she has worked with. We especially knew we would need additional work with negative integers.

What we found is that the videos confused Miss E a lot. For some reason, the instruction confused an already weak concept when it came to negative integers. With this being the very first lesson, it made the book a difficult one for us, as it brought tensions and tears. We pushed through the lesson over a few days, walking her through every example, exercise, and review.

I then took a look at the table of contents a bit more closely than I had and decided that we needed to work through the first chapter out of order. I found that the number line review was not first even though the first lesson of adding integers teaches and refers to the number line. Some other concepts such as the properties of numbers, greatest common factors, and least common multiples were pretty far down in the chapter yet those concepts were needed to do lessons that came before that in the chapter. This is a definite weakness of the book, in my opinion.number line lesson

Noticing that allowed me to reorder the materials in a way that made sense by concept and we tackled the book again. This time, we worked up through the materials, reviewing items that were the stepping stones to the next concept and it all made much more sense to Miss E. Her confidence grew and when we came again to the integers and dealing with negative numbers, while it still wasn’t easy for her, she didn’t have such a bad time of it.

WHY THIS BOOK?

If your student is ready for Algebra I or higher, this book is right up your alley. There are no frills. It is straight-forward. The videos are designed to help with instructions. No-Nonsense Algebra covers

  • Necessary Tools for Algebra
  • Solving Equations
  • Graphing and Analyzing Linear Equations
  • Solving and Graphing Inequalities
  • Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities
  • Polynomials
  • Rational Expressions (Algebraic Fractions)
  • Radical Expressions and Geometry
  • Quadratic Equations
  • Algebra Word Problems

Included in the back of the book are the solutions (but no explanation of how to get the correct solution if you make a mistake), a final review, glossary, tables of important formulas and symbols, multiplication table, and squares and square roots.

With all that this book covers, I can imagine that it is a good review for a student who has completed algebra courses and is taking, or preparing to take, college entrance exams. It would definitely provide a thorough review.

All in all, this is a good book that just didn’t fit my girls’ needs. But, I am going to keep it around as I can see it being a lot of help in a few years as college exams approach.

At Home.

Read additional reviews of how other families use this book by clicking the banner below.

No-Nonsense Algebra {Math Essentials Reviews} 

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UnLock Math ~ a Crew review

UnLock pre-algebra

I admit – I had super high hopes for this review of UnLock Pre-Algebra, an online math program from UnLock Math. Perhaps my hopes were too high (this was not, after all, the magical class I had dreamed of) but regardless, this is a fantastic program that has shown my daughter that she CAN understand math and that she can actually do well at math.

UnLock Math pre-algebraUnLock Math was dreamed up and created by Alesia Blackwood, a high school math teacher, and her husband Matthew. They were both home educated and so knew the curriculum choices that existed and what a solid curriculum would need. They envisioned a program that did everything the parent needed, including fantastic customer service.

UnLock Math is online math education featuring small segments of material and reviews of already learned material. Focused engagement is found by the student only viewing a single question at a time and all of the questions have a fully-worked out solution for the student to view. Combine this with video presentation that utilizes technology (the smart-board interaction is engaging!) and an interesting and excited presenter, you find yourself with a math curriculum that is different than other things on the market.

We have been using UnLock Pre-Algebra with our rising 8th grader. She is not a student UnLock Math video imagethat has just jumped for joy at math classes. She has struggled since she was in public schools and they pressured her with tests and timed requirements. She has not recovered her confidence yet. However, and this is HUGE, we have seen a bit of a change since starting this program. She still does not love math but she also does not balk at every single mention of it. In fact, we have seen her whoop and holler when she gets things right and challenge herself to repeat a question set for a better score. Voluntarily repeating questions? That’s big! Any excitement about math? That’s big! Excitement about doing well in math? That is GIGANTIC!

So, what does is the program like? What do we see? How do you navigate it? Easy!

DASHBOARD

The student goes to the student login page and logs in. This is what the student sees:

student dashboard

Looking at the left side, the student can see what they have completed by the lock next to the Unit. In this image, Miss E had completed two units. She is ready to move on to unit 3. You can also see the dial which indicates your current overall score (this changes after the first unit; until then it seemed to stay at the same place and not be accurate). At the bottom (out of the range of this screenshot) is a pie chart that shows the completion of the unit – how much is done and how much still needs to be done in each area (warm up, practice problems, stay sharp, and quizzes).

Two other places can be accessed on this page that are helpful. One is the gradebook and the other is a progress report. I’ll cover those in a bit.

To launch the next unit, the student clicks on the rocket ship on the right side of the unit title. This takes you to a page where you see the lessons, quizzes, and tests. It looks like this:

daily lesson selection

Again, you can tell what is completed because it is unlocked. If it is still locked, that is the next lesson that needs to be completed. This page was so well set up that it was easy for Miss E to see what lessons she needed to complete before she could take a quiz (or the test at the end). Lessons and reviews are on the left; quizzes and tests are on the right. We also really liked that each quiz tells you which lessons are being covered in the quiz.

The gradebook is a line-item gradebook, showing a grade for each item completed. In preparing for the course, UnLock Math tells you how much each item is weighted in the grade calculations. This is an example of what the gradebook looks like:

grade book

You can show more lines by searching at the bottom left. That was an important feature that I wish were more prominently placed and a bit easier to use. I have to guess at how many lines I need it to show in order to look at how she did on any given assignment.

The progress report is another piece that might be useful, especially if you have to show periodic progress. It is easy to use. Once you are on the screen, you have an overall view of the program. If you want a report on the progress of just one unit, click that unit at the bottom of the page and it will update the scores shown. You can then print what is needed.progress report

LESSONS

Now for the specifics of how the lessons work. After the student launches the current lesson, here is what they see:

Lesson example

There are five parts to the lesson plus reference notes:

  • warm up
  • video
  • practice problems
  • stay sharp
  • challenge yourself
  • reference notes

Each lesson runs approximately 30 minutes, depending on the speed at which the student completes the questions.

Warm up: This is designed to help the student “turn on” their math brain. These have generally been easy to answer questions that just help get started.

Video: This video is Mrs. Blackwood presenting and teaching the concept for the lesson. She talks about it, gives examples, and uses a smart-board to help her illustrate the concept. These have been, generally, less than 10 minutes.

Practice Problems: This is a set of problems using the concept presented in the video. There are not a lot of these. I think they have run between 10 and 20 of them. These can be done more than once if the student struggles. The highest score will be kept. Each time, a new set of questions is generated; there is no repetition of questions and solutions.

Stay Sharp: These are review questions over things previously covered so that concepts will not be forgotten. There are perhaps 5 to 10 of these. Again, these can be repeated.

Challenge Yourself: This is a critical thinking exercise in which the solution requires the student to really think and analyze the material presented. If this is missed, it is not counted against the student. This is one of Miss E’s favorite parts!

Reference Notes: This is printed materials for those who process things better if they can also see it written down. We have not utilized this yet but it is a wonderful addition that I can see being really helpful.

The input of solutions on this program is decent. Math solutions can be difficult to enter via a keyboard. It is not intuitive but it is not terribly difficult in Pre-Algebra so far. The student will need to get used to it, based on how each student thinks through a problem. Miss E tends to enter solutions from the right to the left so she will enter a digit for the ones column and then hit the left arrow key to go to the tens column. She figured it out easily but she does have to pay attention to how solutions are entered.

SUMMING IT UP

I know this is a pretty long review. This is one I wanted to be thorough on. I am hesitant about online math programs. We have seen a number of them and while they look pretty good, they do not turn out to be what we needed. I am pleased with the setup of UnLock Math and think that it is a worthwhile program to spend some time looking into for your family. If you would like to see a demo video of a lesson, please visit the UnLock Math site.

While one of my biggest complaints about online instruction is not fixed in this program (that being that the instruction is on video and thus the instructor cannot address the individual student and what is being misunderstood in the presentation; honestly, I don’t know how you would fix it online), UnLock Math seems to have explanations and video that do a very good job of explanation. Thus, there is not quite so much still out there that I have to figure out how to explain. I am pleased with that.

UPDATE: It was brought to my attention that there is actually a chat option on the site that the student my access during the session. This chat is monitored by licensed teachers Monday-Friday from 9-4 EST. I had totally missed that option. This is a wonderful thing to know about and basically eliminates the concern I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Teachers on-call? Now this program really does seem like the ideal. I hope it continues to be what Miss E needs!

UnLock Pre-Algebra  I think is going to stick. As we approach some of the concepts that are more difficult, we will see but it looks so much more promising than other programs. And anytime that I can get Miss E working on math and finding success, well, that is a quality program in my eyes.

At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews. We were reviewing

UnLock Pre-Algebra 

UnLock Algebra1

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UnLock Geometry
(this is the newest addition to UnLock Math!)

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K5 Learning ~ a Crew review

K5 Learning is a supplemental, online program that is designed by educators and intended for anyone needing to strengthen their reading, math, or spelling skills. Both home educated students and public school students alike are the target users for this program.

K5 LearningK5 Learning has three main components – reading, math, and spelling. The reading instruction is intended to help students in phonics, sight words, and reading comprehension. Math is intended to assist students with numbers and operations, geometry, and data, along with beginning algebraic thinking. The spelling portion of the site is a combination of spelling and vocabulary building.

When a student begins with K5, it is best to begin with an assessment. This is designed to help place the student at the lessons that will most benefit the student. It takes about 20 minutes to complete each assessment, a total of about 40 minutes as there are separate assessments for math and reading. We found these assessments to be fairly inaccurate, especially in the phonics department.

After completing the assessment, each time the student logs in, she is taken to a page to choose either math, reading, or spelling for the day. Clicking on the category takes the student to the beginning of their activity for the day. The student is then taken through an online lesson that consists of stating the object, instruction, practice problems, and then an activity. Each page has a button at the bottom that is supposed to allow the student to stop and save their work. This is where they should be returned the next time they log in to this category.

Some of the nice parts of the online program include:

  • easy login for both student and parent

    math worksheet

    a printable worksheet

  • once logged in and the area is selected, the student begins right where they left off the last time (assuming the programming is working correctly – more about that in a minute)
  • the program is rich in visual and auditory material
  • the parent can retrieve reports on the student’s progress and growth
  • bite-sized lessons
  • parents can assign material if additional practice is needed
  • spelling words can easily be added
  • printable worksheets are available to provide an off-line component

While these are all really nice things, we found that K5 did not meet the needs of our family. I will start by talking about the assessments.

Miss L – 10 at the start of the review period; 11 at the end

  • I expected Miss L to assess out of the program in reading, as she reads and comprehends at a very high level and her spelling is excellent. She tested at 2nd grade levels in phonics but those lessons were completely inappropriate for her age and ability. There was no way for me to see what specifically she needed to zero in on, if anything, related to phonics. Her reading placements put her at high 5th grade but even those lessons seemed below her ability. It was not pleasant or helpful for her to complete these lessons.
  • In math, Miss L placed approximately where I expected her to – right on level. I felt like this assessment was probably accurate but the instruction was a very poor fit for her age and ability. She was unable to work with the instruction and program without extreme frustration. We did not make her continue with the program.

Miss J – age 8 during the review period

  • I felt as though her reading assessment was off. While the numbers for placement looked good, the material was almost all review for Miss J. She was working on phonetic material that she had completed easily six months ago and the reading was below her abilities.
  • Miss J’s math assessment also seemed off. It had her working on materials that she completed a while back, while also having her work on things that she did not know anything about yet. It was kind of a mixed bag for her, though technically it was showing her as placing at a low 3rd grade level (a bit higher than she is currently working in her curriculum).
student dashboard

student dashboard showing the three parts of the program and the printable worksheets

 

We encountered several issues, aside from the assessments. One of the biggest? Miss J had to repeat assignments that she passed a number of times. In particular, there was one series on reading comprehension that she had to repeat a total of five times before it moved her forward. I did contact the company and they told me that she had to pass it with better than 65% to move forward. Well, she had. I had sat beside her for 4 of those times and she had gotten everything or almost everything correct. We would log out and log back in, and it still made her repeat it. We were just about to give up on the program completely when it finally let her move forward.

This came up another time, as well. However, this time she only had to repeat the lessons three times before moving on.

reading comprehension page

One of the biggest issues I had with the repetition is not that she had to repeat – after all, relearning material can really help in the long run. The issue was that the repeat was just that – an exact repeat: same lesson, same words, same passages to read, same questions to answer. After the first time through a reading passage, it is no longer a reading comprehension exercise; it is now a memory exercise. This is not helpful if the student is truly struggling with reading comprehension.

Another issue that we saw was in the math instruction. Miss J was working on multiplication. The lesson began with a image of some arrays that was intended to assist her in solving the problem. But after the first reference to the arrays, all other discussion was done without referring back to the image. The image for the problem is never tied to the method of solving it. We saw this same sort of thing occur in many of the math lessons. The picture appears, and then is ignored in the instruction.

In math instruction, we did not feel as though there was actual instruction. Most of the time, multiple problems were walked through, step-by-step. Lack of instruction meant that I had to sit with Miss J for the duration of her work on the program so I could fill in the missing information for her. I realize that this is a supplemental program but, as such, student who are needing additional practice need additional instruction. I expect a supplemental program to provide that piece, especially since K5 is designed with an assessment to help place the student where they were having difficulty.

Additionally, I had to instruct her on how to answer questions. The input of answers was not intuitive for the student and problems were often not lined up logically. Problems did not have the tens and ones places lined up vertically. Some problems had to have commas inserted for the answer to be counted correct; others did not. Adding those commas often misaligned the columns. Just another bit that makes it hard for the student to not get frustrated.

vocabulary lessonTiming was another issue. If a student knows an answer, it is detrimental to their concentration to have them have to wait out all of the talking the program does before they are allowed to answer the question. More than once, frustration built up because our students had to wait to type in an answer. At other times, the answer was timed and if the student took too long to type it in, what they had already worked out was erased and they had to start over. This was especially true in the 5th grade level math. She often had no idea that it was going to be timed until after she had already had an answer erased. Again, this built frustration and did not help in her learning skills that needed practice.

At the late 2nd grade level, a student does not need everything read to them. This is a great option but it should be just that – an option, not an automatic feature. This took up a lot of time and Miss J often lost her concentration while waiting on the voice to stop talking so she could answer a question.

I think that there are probably some very beneficial things about this program. However, after our experience, I wonder if this is not a program that the student needs to begin when they are younger. If they had grown with this program, perhaps we would not have met with all of the frustrations and issues that we did. All in all, this just was not a good fit for our family.

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Subtracting Negative Numbers

Negative Numbers resource

I struggle with understanding negative numbers. So, when Miss E could just not get it from the video on her current course, I went in search of things that could explain it. Because, you know, understanding the “why” of something is sometimes required to move forward. This was one she could just not take on faith.

So, in my search, we went through some of the norms that are shared: Khan Academy, YouTube, etc. While these were not bad, they just kind of assume that their explanation of “taking the debt away” is enough. It is not. I don’t even understand that outside of that one application.

Then I stumbled on MathIsFun.com. Now this site? It is bookmarked now. Their explanations and pictures were perfect. It made sense!!! You have no idea how impressive that is to me. Subtracting negative numbers is something I have always done because a teacher told me that two negatives make a positive but not because I understood why. Now, finally, I understand why. (I am telling you this because I am impressed. I do not get a thing by sharing about this site.)

Check out the site on adding and subtracting positive AND negative numbers. Very cool. Their explanation is simple, clear, and – best of all – applicable to lots of situations. And now both I and Miss E understand subtracting negative numbers. Now to get her to redo those practice questions on her math program. {sigh}

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