Teaching Textbooks

For the past few years we haven’t used a math curriculum of any sort. Yes, you read that right. For several years we’d been “free flying” as I call it, learning math through games, hands on applications, & stories.

We had a grand time of it, and both of my children had a firm foundation in basic mathematics. However, we made a few changes to our little homeschool & one of the changes I decided to make was to use a math curriculum again.

It wasn’t that what we were doing wasn’t working, but rather that I wanted to be sure all the gaps I might have were filled. I opted to go with Teaching Textbooks after trying out the free samples online & administering their placement tests.

My 2nd grader easily fit into the Third Grade math with Teaching Textbooks & my Fourth Grader knew too much to use the Grade Four cds thus bumping him up to the Fifth Grade choice.

How We Use it:

This is an extremely easy programme to use, and after chatting with fellow TT users I decided not to purchase the books that came with it, but rather just the cds.

On any given Teaching Textbook day my child will load his cd into the computer and work studiously. If they need help and Mum is busy they merely skip the problem until I can come to their aid.

Because I chose to only purchase the cds I also went online to the Teaching Textbooks website and printed out the Table Of Contents for each grade level we’re working on. I file that in my teacher notebook and highlight bonus rounds with what facts the children will cover; see below for more information on Bonus Rounds. I also highlight lessons I don’t want a child to miss, but might mark lessons we won’t need because we all ready know the information.

The Break Down:

Each of the various grades that we own comes with four cds, and there are roughly 30 lessons on each disc. Every 7th lesson or so is something dubbed as a Bonus Round.

My kids live for Bonus Rounds! Okay, so a Bonus Round is just a three minute chance to show how many math facts you know by heart. It’s set up similar to a game show complete with a robot host & robot crowd.

In each Bonus Round you have the opportunity to gain up to 4 additional points towards your grade for the day. If you can answer a quarter of the problems correctly you get 1 point, half the questions you get 2 points, three quarters earns you 3 points, & obviously answering them all correctly gets you 4.

This can be a challenging time for children who don’t work well under pressure. In our home, the kids don’t mind the ticking time and the encouraging little robots, but they do get flustered making sure they are hitting the right keys on the number pad in a quick fashion. So, in our house when we hit a Bonus Round I go ahead and type for them while they spout off answers.

Note that each bonus round concentrates on a specific operation each time. These are noted in the table of contents so you can remind your student to brush up on their addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division facts.

Each lesson starts with a lecture that the child listens to. In it a male voice explains how to do the days lessons or new topic. This is generally well done, all though I wasn’t as impressed with the way they taught facts. By this, I mean when it came to multiplication facts the fellow would tell them the answer to each of their 12 times table facts, then he’d tell them they needed to memorize them. The flashed on the screen for a mere matter of seconds disappeared and the child was to set about the lesson for the day. We chose to supplement for learning our times tables due to this.

After your lecture for the day you are given 5 practice problems, not alway based on your lecture. Then you have an additional 23 problems to answer for the day. Sometimes we chose to do them all, sometimes I permit the kids to skip problems.

For instance, if my child knows how to do the problem, I see no point in having him do 6 of the same problems so long as he got the answer correct the first two or three times. There are some downsides to this, but we’ll discuss those later.

Every 13 lessons or so there is also a quiz. There is no lecture for Quiz days, you merely load up your lesson and answer 23 different math problems.

The programme automatically keeps track of the grades & scores for quizzes, bonuses, & lessons. As my children finish with a cd I print out the final scores for each of those lessons and I file it so I have proof of the math they’ve done for the year and the scores they achieved.

What I don’t like:

As mentioned before I’m not keen on the way some lectures are given. I respect that teaching a student math facts can be a challenging process & I know that by adding in the Bonus Rounds they are encouraging memorization, however I was still unimpressed with the way some facts were taught.

I don’t like trick problems. My student was dutifully working away one day when I heard a problem come up that I felt was a bit too tricky and sneaky and would merely frustrate my student. The problem was down the lines of, “If it’s 2:00 and it’s dark outside is that am or pm.” For an 8 year old I’m pretty sure he’d associate dark with pm, thus I felt the problem was a tad too sneaky/tricky.

I dislike the fact that there are 23 problems for each lesson & if I have my student skip those problems it’s reflected in his grade. For instance if my child only does 19 our of 23 problems his grade will be an 85% or there abouts.

I don’t love what they wanted to charge me for international shipping when I know it can be done for half the price. I really struggle with this, but also understand that people who don’t ship internationally regularly might not know that.

What I love:

I love that this little programme can do the grades for me. Until this programme my children have never really had a grade before and they actually enjoy seeing what their score is.

I love that if my children make a typo and get a problem wrong I can log in to their grade book and reflect the change OR I can even delete answers and have them rework problems. This is a huge deal if your child has the habit of being a tad heavy on the keyboard.

I love that I can also delete out a Bonus Round and have my child redo that too. This is funtastic if you want your child to have a creative way to practice their math facts. Or, if your keyboard gets unplugged during the middle of a round and your Mum doesn’t know it until there’s 10 seconds left.

I love that these cds are both Windows & Mac compatible! This excites me in ways I just can’t explain. As a Mac family it was a huge deal for us to be able to use these on our Macs!

I love that if you have a US or Canadian postal address you can get free shipping from this company!

I’m also really impressed with the resale value that this programme has. The programme is $110 brand new from the published/creator, but it has an average resale value of $70.

I love that there are not 180 days worth of lessons! This means my children can use this programme only 2-3x a week and we use those extra days for our Living Math lessons. They can still accomplish more then enough, if not all of, the programme.

Bottom Line:

We really enjoy using this programme. It’s a really fun way for kids to get both computer skills and math skills in. Not to mention, if you’re not a math fan and feel you lack the skills to teach your children this programme would be a wonderful fit for you!

Kendra lives in Tasmania Australia with her husband, the Man From Down Under, two curious boys, a dog, & a bird that constantly talks back. Creator, and avid user, of the Homeschool Book Of Days & The Nature Game she can be found retelling tales from The Land Down Under over at the Aussie Pumpkin Patch.

Kendra (31 Posts)

Kendra lives in Tasmania Australia with her husband, the Man From Down Under, her two curious boys, a dog that thinks he's human, a guinea pig that won't stop squeaking, & a bird learning to talk back. She's a second generation home educator. She loves using methods from Unit Studies to Boxed Curriculum and everything in between to help feed the curious minds of her two, ever growing, boys. Creator, and avid user, of the Homeschooling Book of Days & The Nature Game. She can be found retelling tales from The Land Down Under over at the Aussie Pumpkin Patch.


{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Patrizia Schwartz November 25, 2011, 2:11 am

    I invested in TT in April this year for my 3rd grader who had a total mental-block towards worksheets due to inadequate foundation at private school causing him to struggle at school last year. It is an absolutely awesome program and he has since averaged way above 80% on all his lessons. Suddenly he was able to complete a 24 question activity in 20 minutes whearas before a 10 question worksheet would take him anything from 40 minutes to an hour. However, after 6 months of everyday use he started to dislike it a bit because it is very monotonous in its presentation. Being a right brained kinaesthetic learner, he needs constant change & huge variety, so I’ve decided next year we’ll only use it 2 to 3 times per week instead.
    Patrizia Schwartz´s last blog post ..The Heart & Soul Homeschool Mama

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  • Kendra November 26, 2011, 4:16 pm

    We’re mixing our TT with Life Of Fred and general hands on this year. :)

    Reply
  • June G. Gentry March 7, 2012, 3:59 am

    Wow. It is an absolutely awesome program. I am planning on using this program but i don’t have a copy. I can’t find it. Can you help me. Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Kendra March 7, 2012, 5:19 am

      You can purchase the programme from Teachingtextbook.com

      Reply
  • Rana April 19, 2012, 8:53 am

    Thank you so much for this review. I have been looking at TT for a few months now and was trying to decide it I want to go that route for our children. After reading your review which has given me the most information on this I am sold. I can’t wait to order ours. Thanks again for the review.

    Reply
  • ChristineMM April 29, 2012, 4:48 pm

    I believe grade 3 is TT’s latest release. Good to see they made some changes, for example in the grades 5,6, and 7 we own and used you could not go in and change an answer if you made a typo.

    I think your review is well written and you should do one for each grade you use. There are variables in the different levels that make it have more or less pros and cons.

    My criticism of grades 5-7 is that it is far too much review and not enough practice of new material. You can score an 88 by getting all the new stuff wrong. Not good. That built up over time with 88 or 92 scores but my son not understanding the new stuff and keeping it secret from me (grade 7 when they want to work independently).

    Khan Academy is fantastic also and it is free. If you login with a free gmail email acccount you can make for your kids they do problems and it keeps records on their work. That keeps repeating the stuff they need to work on until they get it which is an improvement over Teaching Textbooks.

    I say whatever works for you. Glad that your family is happy with TT. It served us well for a few years!
    ChristineMM´s last blog post ..Camping Gear Organization Tip for Boy Scouts

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    • Kendra April 29, 2012, 6:09 pm

      Yes Christine, TT3 was their latest release, however I believe they are now gearing up for TT2, but that might just be a rumour. There has been a major overhaul on the Teaching Textbook programmes. We ended up with an older copy of 5 that only ran on windows & didn’t have some of the benefits of the newer upgraded programmes. Things like the Bonus Rounds & the ability to go into the Grade Book.

      I whole heartedly agree there was a lot of review. For my student using TT3 intentionally that was okay, I was content with that as he wasn’t actually a 3rd grader anyway. Due to the amount of review the children were able to fly through the programme. However, all math programmes, at least ones I’ve used, also have a heap of review in it. I know, for instant, that Saxon has the first 25 lessons in any given math book be nothing more then review of what the kids learned the following year.

      The upside to this is you can easily shave off 25 {or however many review days your math programme has} off your school year. You could use it to simply review if your child is in need. There are many options.

      I won’t be doing more reviews, at this stage, on other grade levels because I’ve moved my students away from Teaching Textbooks. While I LOVE the programme & the simplicity of it & my children did learn, I felt that for my eldest he wasn’t being challenged enough & I needed to move him to something else for a while. We’ll see if we stick with that opinion come the higher math grades/levels. :)
      Kendra´s last blog post ..Lest We Forget

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