Monday, June 15, 2015

CTC Math - A TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

Review Crew
In April I learned that the Schoolhouse Review Crew would be reviewing CTC Math.
CTCMath Review

CTC Math generously gave Schoolhouse Crew members their 12 Month Family Plan for us to review! I was excited to see CTC Math again because they now have expanded their program to include Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry and Trigonometry! (And besides, their on-line adds are so compelling!)

I have one student who is completing 9th grade. He has been parked in Algebra I for a long time. I consider mastery in Mathematics to be of utmost importance. As a homeschooling parent of a high school student, if he doesn't quite understand absolute value or square roots, I don't want to give him a "C" and move on. If he does not understand a concept we slow down, supplement, and hone in. I feel like we've been in a period right now of waiting for the higher-thinking parts of his brain to mature a little bit to help him succeed in Algebra.

My original plan in having CTC Math available was to supplement what my son was doing in his established Algebra I curriculum. I familiarized myself with the Algebra my son was doing in late April/early May, and then I located that subject in the CTC Math Algebra I Table of Contents. It was easy to find the section on "Factoring".

The fuzziness in the screenshot is from reproduction. The program itself has no blur at all. Clicking on "Factoring" took me to a list of lessons on factoring.

As you can see from the screenshot, we finished this unit. Now me being a Math person, I couldn't just let my son do the program. CTC was kind enough to give us two accounts so that my son and I could each have an account. As it turned out, for the review period we used only one account. I was so interested in seeing everything in the program! These math methods are amazing!

There were so many methods that were new to me! I had no idea these methods existed! If you are not a "math person" you might want to scan this section. Here is one of the amazing methods I learned.

Some of the terminology was also new to me. This example is about factoring a "non-monic quadratic equation". An example of a "monic" (mono meaning '1') quadratic equation is an equation that starts with 'X^2' (X to the 2nd power), but there is no numeral in front of 'X'. It is not 2X^2 or 3X^2, it is just X^2.  A "non-monic" quadratic equation HAS a number in front of the initial X^2. 

So to factor a given non-monic quadratic equation:
the student is taught first to write
where the 6 is multiplying times the 4 to get 24, and the answer starts with the
                                         (6X         )(6X         ) - but the answer will be divided by 6. Then the goal is to find two numbers that multiply to get 24, but add to get 11, and those numbers are 8 and 3. You plug them into the equation.
Then you need to get rid of the 6 in the denominator by dividing. But 6 won't go into 8 or 3, so you break 6 into 2 X 3
Then you divide (6X + 8) / 2 = (3X + 4) and you divide (6X + 3) / 3 = (2X + ), giving you the final answer of:
As has happened so many times throughout my home school years, the teacher has become the student! There are so many new methods I have now seen in this CTC Algebra I that I am totally amazed! I am so glad to have a 12-month subscription, and I totally plan to use it myself as well as have my son use his account.

So some differences with CTC that you will want to know:
  • Some of the words are different or are spelled differently. What I call "factoring" is called "factorising", which I would spell "factorizing".
  • The narrator has a cool Australian accent!
  • When a lesson is completed, the student opens a worksheet and an answer sheet, or prints out a worksheet and writes out the answers. Our method is to open the worksheet, move it to the left side of the screen, and open the answer sheet and move it to the right side of the screen.
You should encourage your student to write down his/her work, not just try to figure it out in their head. When answers are submitted, incorrect answers are highlighted in amber to give the student an opportunity to revise their answers.

Encourage them to write down their work and try to get their answers correct the first time, though. Once they submit their answers, the score stays on their electronic record. They can correct it, and the improved score will show, but the poor score will not go away.

I have worked with CTC Math at various times for YEARS and have never found an error on an answer key. Today I have to report that I found errors on the above lesson. I did this lesson specifically to create an example for this blog entry. Imagine my surprise when I got so many wrong! Okay, I did it in my head and not on paper, but still...

So I looked closer and found that two of the answers were on the answer key TWICE. When I selected the letter for the first answer it was wrong, but when I selected the letter for the second answer, it was correct! (Same answer!)

Answer 'D' is the same as answer 'N' -- D is "Incorrect" and N is "Correct".

Answer 'E' is the same answer as "M"--E is "Incorrect" and M is "Correct".

I am sure CTC Math appreciates my editing assistance and will quickly get into their files [of Algebra I, Inequalities and Absolute Values, Lesson 2] and change answers D and E to something else so their students will not get frustrated by this.

I love math, and I love CTC Math. I am so thankful I will have this program to use this summer as my son finishes Algebra I, and next school year as we tackle Algebra II. My son is less excited about CTC Math. Although he is smart and is quite good at Math, he hates math and does not like having more math to do, even when it gives the good results of improving his math grades.

I myself, the math lover, wish I could find the time over the next 11 months to work my way through the rest of CTC Math's Algebra I, as well as their Algebra II, Geometry and Trigonometry programs. I have that option -- CTC gives you everything when you buy their program. However each student does need to have their own account since the program keeps track of what has been completed, the scores on worksheets and tests, as well as the scores on the revisions.

CTC also sends out an email to the teacher each week, which I also love. You know those conversations with your child where they tell you they did their math every day? They may believe it to be true, or they may not have finished, or they may think they are "fudging" the truth. The email report gives the true scoop. If your student displays a tendency to let math slide and you learn of it, you can start going in through the teacher account to check the status each day and help them get back on track.

I have had a few times this year when, after some gentle instruction and review my son said, "Something is seriously wrong here! I'm starting to understand this! I know how to do this!" He has a funny way of saying it, but I love hearing that he had a "light bulb" moment. And I've had light bulb moments, too, using CTC Math. If you were with me you would have heard me saying, "No way!" "Are you serious?" "You can do it that way?" etc. 

I love CTC Math!

To read other reviews of CTC Math by other Schoolhouse Review Crew members, click the link below.
CTCmath Review

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