Friday, September 10, 2010

TOS Review: America's Math Teacher

Math Essential

After seeing that Lauren had received several review items to evaluate, Addison was at least a bit interested in having something that she could try too. America's Math Teacher is a complete online math program, complete with videos, exercises to print, evaluations, and speed drills.

Brennan was perhaps at the low end of the targeted age range, but Addison was a perfect candidate to try it out. She started a Pre-Algebra program last spring and is nearly halfway through. She did quite a few of the America's Math Teacher lessons in the pre-Algebra section. Brennan is in roughly fourth or fifth grade math, but he's following a program with a non-traditional scope and sequence. He did some of the Basic Math Lessons, primarily the ones working with whole numbers and some of the word problems. It starts by covering basic math operations with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. Then it moves on to ratios, percents, integers, geometry, probability, statistics, and simple algebraic equations.

The video lessons themselves got a thumbs' up from both of my kids, even though some were longer than the ones we usually use. Most of the basic math videos were roughly 5 minutes, but a few of the pre-algebra ones were roughly 15 minutes. These are definitely no-frills videos -- all of the shots I saw were of a whiteboard.

Addison complained a bit because the videos seemed to build upon each other, and the instructor told them to do something the same way it was done in a previous lesson. We were skipping around in the lessons and she hadn't seen the video he was referring to. This could be a problem if you were using this program to supplement another curriculum and therefore not working through the lessons in sequential order.

Written worksheets
After watching the video, you can find exercise sheets to print. Each video lesson has at least one corresponding exercise sheet, and some of the lessons have multiple sheets for additional practice. All of the answers are provided separately (which was very helpful on nights when I really didn't want to practice my own algebra skills). I particularly like the way each page begins with a handful of review problems at the top and then addresses the current lesson on the bottom.

The online speed drills were very simple, but my kids didn't seem to mind the no-frills approach. Written speed drills in a similar format are included on exercise sheets. The online version allows you to try to beat your previous score for addition or multiplication. I did steer Brennan away from the subtraction version because it requires knowledge of negative numbers to finish some of the drills.

online speed drills

The written practice exercises are graded by the parent with an included answer key. At the end of each unit, there are online quizzes that are computer-graded. There is also a final exam provided for each course.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the curriculum in my mind is the word problem section. It is significantly more challenging than most that I've found in my children's other curriculums. Many of the written exercise pages have a word problem or two included. These word problems usually correspond to the skill practiced on the page. These examples helped me explain to my children how or why they would use the concept we were learning. In addition, Basic Math, Advanced Math, and Algebra have full units devoted to working word problems. These units walk the student through solving basic one-step word problems and problems that required more than one step. For instance, this problem is taken from the basic math written exercise: "A car traveled 96 miles. If it averaged 12 miles per gallon of gas and gas cost $1.29, how much did the trip cost?"

Free samples of the video lessons are available here and the written exercises here. A yearly subscription to America's Math Teacher costs $195. It includes all of the videos, written exercises, and evaluations. You are not limited to only one level or even one student. If you have more than one child that needs basic math through Algebra instruction, they can all access the materials.

If you'd like to see what other homeschool parents (and their students) think about America's Math Teacher, be sure to check out The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog.

Disclaimer: I received a free trial subscription to America's Math Teacher website as a member of the 2010 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.


1 comment:

  1. From the TOS crew and just stopping in and checking out reviews. Wanted to say hi. I love your blog!
    ~Jen Unsell



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