Wednesday, April 23, 2014

CTC Math - A 2014 Homeschool Crew Review

Back in March I learned that the Schoolhouse Review Crew would have the opportunity to review CTC Math.  I was pleased when I learned that we would be among those Crew members reviewing the program. We received the 12 Month Family Plan , and we jumped right in. We were allowed to have more than one student, so I not only set up an account for Miner, but also one for myself! So since mid-March, we have both been working on the Algebra I level of CTC Math.
It took us both a little while to get used to the idea of logging into the program, watching the video, and answering all the questions. I remember my surprise, as we got into week 2, when I received a progress report on my two students' accounts (mine being one of them). The report informed me that my student had logged in every day, but had not done any of the worksheets! What a great program, to so quickly let me know there was a problem going on so that I could take care of it.

I had assumed that Miner had it figured out, but he needed me to show him how to open up the worksheet and the answer sheet, to figure out the problems and fill them in. Then it was more a matter of keeping him going each day.

After a number of weeks, we came upon a snag. The instructor was asking Miner to do something on the calculator that was a function that our calculator did not have. I had him skip that section, to be looked at together at a later time. So one of the things I like about this program is the thorough way the program covers the material, and makes it clear where Miner or I do not understand something. For instance, Miner is still needing more work in the area of converting fraction to decimal to percent. I myself have learned where I didn't know what I didn't know. Some of it I knew I was clueless about (Scientific notation), and some of my math errors were totally unexpected (working with negative powers). I have learned so much with this program! I wish I had had it when my two graduated daughters were doing their high school math!
To get set up, initially the parent registers with CTC Math, and when logged into the "Parent Account" sets up the "Student Account" with a user name and password. Then the student logs in to the Student Account and selects a math level. All the levels are available for the registered student to work on, so the student can work at any level he or she wants to, or any level mom wants him to work on. Miner and I are working on Algebra I. The way the Algebra I program works is that when you select Algebra I, the screen opens to give you Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4. 

I wanted to work the program right along with my son, and I started with Level 1. Level 1 is divided into Number Review 1, Number Review 2, and Algebra Review. The reviews are very comprehensive. Number Review 1 contains 16 sections; I completed them and moved on to Number Review 2.
Number Review 2 contains 8 sections. I was able to get through 7 sections, but the 8th section I was unable to do. It is titled "Scientific Notation: Using a Calculator", and none of my calculators have the button(s) that the lesson calls for. So I skipped the lesson, and I will go back to it at a later time. I'll either figure out my calculator or do it manually.

This problem highlights the same problem Miner had come across. I'm not sure what section he was working in, but the lesson said to press the A-B-C button to change percent to decimal to fraction, and none of our calculators have such a button. I need to go back, later, to make sure Miner knows how to do those conversions without the calculator.

I also completed the Algebra Review, and that completed Level 1 of the Algebra 1 program. I moved on to Section 2. So, for purposes of this review I wanted to let you know the contents of Sections 2, 3 and 4, even though I haven't completed them.

Part 2 is divided into four sections: Algebra Introduction (12 Lessons); Algebraic Fractions (10 Lessons); Algebraic Equations (7 Lessons); and Simultaneous Equations (9 Lessons, the last being a Topic Test). Part 3 is divided into three sections: Monomials and Polynomials (11 Lessons); Factoring (13 Lessons, the last being a Topic Test); and Inequalities and Absolute Values (6 Lessons). Part 4 is divided into six sections: Coordinate Geometry (12 Lessons); Functions, Relations and Variations (5 Lessons); Radicals (12 Lessons, one being a Topic Test); Quadratic Equations (10 Lessons, one being a Topic Test); Univariate Data I (10 Lessons - one being a Topic Test); and Univariate Data 2 (3 Lessons). 

The higher level maths are not intended to be complete curriculums, but the lower levels can be used as complete curriculums. I am a math lover, and I am fully enjoying finding shortcomings in my math knowledge, and learning how to do the math I previously did not know how to do. My son, not so much. And when he gets to a point where he does not understand, he still tends to just stop working, and I need to walk him through and explain the material to him. That is why I am also working the program, because I know he will have trouble, and I want to be familiar with the material and be able to help him whenever he gets stuck. Not all students may be like my son -- some might fly through this material with never a snag. 

Now, some specifics about the program that I wish were different:
  • There does not appear to be a way to change the size of the window that opens when you click on the worksheet. I wish I could enlarge the page to the size I want it to be.
  • The way the worksheet is often set up, the questions are at the top, the answer choices are at the bottom, so you have to scroll up and down on the worksheet on every single math problem. It is annoying. It would be nicer if the top half had questions on the left and answers on the right, and then the bottom had questions on the left and answers on the right.
  • The answer selections on the worksheet are usually in columns, and the answer needs to be typed into the answer sheet, which has the answers in rows. It is confusing and would be nicer if they were both rows or both columns.
CTC Math has programs for children from Kindergarten to Trigonometry, so all grades, all ages. Homeschoolers get a huge 60% discount off the regular price - 12 months for one student for $78.80, or only $118.80 for your whole family! I don't know how long these prices can last!

I have really enjoyed our membership with CTC Math, and my son has really benefitted. You can try it yourself by signing up for a free trial. I think you and your student(s) will like it!

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